The Consul General at Shanghai (Josselyn) to the Chargé in China (Robertson)1
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of the Chinese text, as published in the November 13, 1945 issue of the Ta Kung Pao, a local Chinese daily, together with translation,2 of a proclamation of the Shanghai Municipal Government, dated November 10, 1945, promulgating the Provisional Procedure of the Bureau of Land Administration of the Municipality of Shanghai Governing Adjustment of Registration of Land Held Under Perpetual Lease or Consular Title Deed.
According to a notification issued by the Shanghai Municipal Government and appearing in the Ta Kung Pao of November 18, 1945, the period fixed for applications for registration is from November 19, 1945, to January 18, 1946, inclusive. A copy of the Chinese text together with translation is also enclosed.2
The Embassy’s attention is invited to Article 2 of the Procedure, which appears to be in contravention of Article IV of the Treaty of 1943 between the United States of America and China for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters.3 Article 31 of the Law for the Enforcement of the Land Law, referred to in Article 2 of the Procedure, reads as follows (See Legation’s Circular No. 364 dated June 21, 1935):
“Article 31. In the case of land leased to foreigners in accordance with the treaties, the proper controlling land office should effect registrations as ownership of public land, after which the lessee may register the lease.
The lessee shall be responsible for all the land taxes and fees in connection with the land referred to in the preceding paragraph, and for all the other requisite obligations of owners provided for in the Land Law.”
Under Article 2 of this Procedure perpetual leases and Consular title deeds are to be replaced by “certificates of other rights” while the Treaty (Article IV, paragraph 2) indicates or implies that if replacement of existing documents relating to real property is to take place, such replacement will be by new deeds of ownership. It seems to me that if the Chinese Government is reluctant to issue deeds of ownership to American title holders, the replacement documents should have the same legal force as deeds of ownership and possibly should also show that they have been issued in exchange for perpetual leases or Consular title deeds.
The Procedure contains another objectionable feature. Article 4 will apparently deprive American owners of their right of transfer (alienation) in case they should fail to register in accordance with law. Moreover, the time limit fixed under the Mayor’s notification is so short that it is absolutely impossible for American owners to comply, as many of them will not be able to return within the time limit and have no representative to act on their behalf.
Moreover, the Procedure makes no mention of the steps which should be taken in case of loss or destruction of perpetual leases or Consular title deeds. Many such cases have taken place during the war.
For the Embassy’s information there is also transmitted a clipping from The Shanghai Herald, a Kuomintang, English-language daily, of November 18, 1945,4 on this subject.
I have addressed a letter to the Mayor of Shanghai, drawing his attention to certain points in the Procedure which appear not to be in agreement with the Treaty and reserving all American rights under the treaty. A copy of my letter is enclosed.