893.102 Peiping/9–446

The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State

No. 90

Sir: I have the honor to report that there are persistent rumors that the Chinese authorities are seeking to take over the properties in Peiping formerly used by diplomatic missions of foreign governments. The press has mentioned moves in that direction by the local authorities. The Embassy’s despatch no. 63 of August 26, 1946 enclosed a report from the American Consul at Peiping26 which described the occupation of the former Spanish Embassy in Peiping by the municipal authorities and quoted a statement by the Peiping representative of the Foreign Office to the effect that the Chinese Government intends to take over all foreign government property in the Diplomatic Quarter.

There exists, of course, the possibility that the local authorities in Peiping have misinterpreted instructions from Nanking in regard to the liquidation of the assets and obligations of the Quarter envisaged by recent treaties. Indeed it seems difficult to believe that the Chinese Government would attempt to deny the right of the United States Government to use for official purposes land allocated to the United States in the Diplomatic Quarter, in contravention of the clear provisions of the Sino-American treaty of 1943.

Nevertheless it seems evident that the Chinese, in their eagerness to liquidate all traces of the former capitulations, seek to regain control [Page 1363]of not only the Quarter but even parts of the land allocated to foreign governments for official purposes. We are advised by our British colleagues that in regard to the former British Embassy property in Peiping, the Foreign Office has made formal request for information in regard to the intended use of the land on which British barracks have been built, thereby clearly implying that the Chinese Government is endeavoring to establish its right to determine whether the pertinent treaty provision may be deemed applicable to all or only part of the property. If such right were established, it would obviously fall within the power of the Chinese Government to take over any if not all of the former Embassy properties. Copies of the Foreign Office’s note to the British Embassy and the latter’s note in reply are enclosed.27

A further indication of Chinese intent is the reluctance of the Chinese to permit the establishment of consular offices in Peiping. In the absence of functioning official establishments in Peiping, the provisions of the Treaties might be interpreted as inapplicable to the former Embassy properties. The British have, after long delay and considerable argument, finally received “temporary permission” to establish a consulate in Peiping. Except the American and British consulates, there are no recognized diplomatic or consular agencies in Peiping at present.

In view of the various reports emanating from Peiping in regard to this matter, the Embassy has addressed an inquiry to the Foreign Office in regard to this matter. A copy is enclosed. The Embassy will continue to watch this matter closely, and will report developments as they occur.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
W. Walton Butterworth

Minister-Counselor of Embassy
[Enclosure]

The American Minister-Counselor of Embassy (Butterworth) to the Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs (Liu)

My Dear Dr. Liu: You may have noted in the recent press a story from Peiping quoting a local newspaper, the Hsin Min Pao, to the effect that the Chinese Government intended to restore its ownership of the land in the former Diplomatic Quarter in that city. This story coincides with a report from the American Consul in Peiping that the [Page 1364]municipal authorities have occupied the premises of the former Spanish Legation and informed the official in charge that this seizure was the first step in taking over all foreign government properties in the former Diplomatic, Quarter. The Consul reports that in conversation with the Foreign Office representative in Peiping, Mr. Chang Shu-shien, the latter declared that it was the Government’s intention to take over all foreign government property in the Quarter.

In view of the clear provisions of Article II of the Sino-American Treaty of 1943 confirming the right of the United States Government to use for official purposes land allocated to the United States in the Diplomatic Quarter, I can only assume that the local authorities in Peiping have misinterpreted their instructions in regard to the liquidation of the assets and obligations of the corporate Quarter. Nevertheless, in order to obviate the possibility of misunderstanding, it would be greatly appreciated if, after investigating the matter, you would assure me that the statements attributed to the local authorities in Peiping are in error and that there is no disposition in responsible quarters of the Chinese Government to take over or occupy the property allocated to the United States Government in the Diplomatic Quarter in Peiping.28

Faithfully yours,

W. Walton Butterworth
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Neither printed.
  3. No report of any reply to this inquiry has been found in Department files.