The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 15—6:56 a.m.]
76. Chinese Govt has taken steps as contemplated in section IV of Sino-American treaty 19432 to effect replacement of titles and documents granting rights to real property held by Americans. Embassy has taken view that issuance uniform instructions by land bureau to local authorities regarding replacement of documents and registration American property essential to protect American rights and to orderly and consistent implementation of treaty and has brought its views to attention Chinese authorities. Construing treaty provision that existing titles and property rights are “indefeasible” as precluding establishment of time limit during replacement of documents and registration of property must take place, Embassy on December 12 instructed Consulates3 to inform interested inquirers that they should disregard such time limits pending outcome its efforts to have uniform regulations established.
However Chinese Govt now insists that American owners of property rights comply with Chinese land laws requiring registration within specified time following public notice. Registration in case of American properties involves replacement of title deeds or other documentary evidence of property rights. In some areas period for registration expires January 31 and FonOff4 has indicated informally that land in those areas not registered prior to that date will be considered theoretically ownerless and subject to nationalization.
In view of serious nature of situation which has arisen, Embassy urgently requests that it be informed by telegram whether Dept concurs [Page 1385] in its interpretation treaty provision referred to above and approves stand taken by it.