811.7393C73/10–1245: Telegram

The Chargé in China (Robertson) to the Secretary of State

1778. The Embassy is today40 in receipt of note from Ministry of Foreign Affairs41 transmitting views of Ministry of Communications with respect to proposals of International Telephone and Telegraph Company outlined in undated memorandum for the Department of State and transmitted by Embassy to Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 23, 1945.42 (Reference Department’s instruction 894, November 10, 1944.43) Translation and checking of this note have not yet been completed, but a summary thereof will be telegraphed as promptly as possible.

Regarding Commercial Pacific Cable Company, the following information has been confirmed by Assistant Commercial Attaché with Director, Department of Posts and Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications. (Reference Department’s airmail instruction 212, July 26, 1945 and Deptel 1581, October 1, 11 a.m.44) The Chinese Government proposes that its international telecommunications shall be principally via radio since wartime experience shows that radio communications are able to meet its needs. Need for resumption of submarine cable service is accordingly not regarded as very pressing. The policy of the Chinese Government is to place its international telecommunications under national operation. With respect to submarine cables, Chinese policy is stated to be that “if both ends of a submarine cable are in Chinese territory the Chinese Government proposes to operate the cable itself; and if one end is in another country the Chinese Government proposes to maintain at least the ownership of a certain length of submarine cable from the point of landing in Chinese territory out into the sea”.

The Ministry of Communications further states that the landing license of the Commercial Pacific Cable Company for its Shanghai–Manila cable expired on December 31, 1944 and that the Ministry of Communications has already informed the company that this landing license will not be renewed. If the company has any proposals for collaboration and operation of the cable in question which will take [Page 1400] into account the above requirement for national control in the territory of China, the Ministry of Communications is prepared to give full consideration to them.

In discussion with Mr. Tao Feng-shan, now Director of Posts and Telecommunications, the Assistant Commercial Attaché was not able to develop practical details as to the type of collaboration envisaged by the Ministry and it is doubted if such practical details have been worked out. To an inquiry concerning precedence for this ownership of a part of the cable, officials of the Ministry of Communications were unable to cite any specific instances. The Assistant Commercial Attaché pointed out that cables owned by American companies land on the shores of Canada, Great Britain, France and many of the Central and South American countries and that it is difficult to visualize a practical means for operating a cable under the plan proposed by the Chinese. It is understood that the same proposal is being made to the Great Eastern (British) and the Great Northern (Danish) cable companies, but that no agreements with these companies have been reached.

Embassy believes that negotiations with Ministry of Communications regarding Mackay Radio, Shanghai Telephone Co., China Electric Co., and Commercial Pacific Telephone Co. can only be expedited by presence in China of authorized representatives of these companies or of International Telephone and Telegraph Co. Is Embassy’s information correct that James E. Fullam, Vice President of latter company, is shortly coming to China?

  1. i. e., October 11.
  2. Dated October 8.
  3. Not printed; copy transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in China in his despatch No. 808, October 19 (893.75/10–1945).
  4. Not printed; it requested the Ambassador in China to take up the matter with the appropriate Chinese authorities with a view to the protection of these American interests (893.75/10–2144).
  5. Neither printed.