693.0031 Tibet/8–2147

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in India (Grady)

No. 46

The Secretary of State acknowledges the receipt of the Embassy’s despatches No. 100 dated August 1, 1947 and No. 142 dated August [Page 601] 21, 1947 in regard to a proposed official Tibetan trade mission to the United States, Great Britain, India and China.

It is not apparent whether the members of this mission would proceed to the United States on official Chinese passports or whether they would expect to carry passports issued by the Tibetan “Foreign Office”. In this connection it should be recalled that China claims sovereignty over Tibet and that this Government has never questioned that claim; accordingly, it would not be possible for this Government to accord members of the projected mission other than an informal reception unless the mission enjoyed the official sanction of the Chinese Government. If the members of the mission carry only Tibetan travel documents, any visas issued them should be placed upon Form–257 rather than upon their passports. Should they apply for visas and should it appear that there exist technical grounds for denying them entry to the United States, the Embassy should promptly apprise the Department of the attendant facts by telegraph; the Department may then in its discretion seek to make arrangements with the immigration authorities for necessary waivers.

Residents of Tibet visiting the United States for the purpose of exploring possibilities for conducting trade between that area and this country could of course expect to receive certain types of assistance from the Department of Commerce. As long as possible in advance of their arrival, that Department would wish to know the number of persons comprising the mission, their names, their public and private economic interests, the date of their arrival in the United States and the duration of their expected stay. The Department of Commerce would arrange on their behalf itineraries, introductions and meetings with interested people in the United States; it does not have funds for activities in behalf of trade missions going beyond those cited above. The Embassy indicates in its despatch of August 1 that the proposed leader of the mission wished to have the names of United States officials with whom he might discuss trade matters; it is believed that the official in the Department of Commerce most suitable for the conduct of such discussions would be Mr. Thomas E. Hibben, Adviser for Foreign Economic Development.

It is stated in the Embassy’s despatch of August 21 that the chief object of the mission may be to obtain gold and possibly silver. Silver can be purchased freely on the U. S. market. In general the Gold Reserve Act of 193410 prohibits the purchase of gold except on foreign government account—which ordinarily is interpreted to refer to purchase by the Central banks of such Governments. Gold refined in this country from foreign ore has been exempt from this prohibition and [Page 602] could sometimes be purchased in New York at a premium of several dollars above the official price of $35 per ounce. However, gold refined from foreign ore imported into the United States after November 24, 1947 may be exported from this country only if the domestic refiner does not participate in the sale of such gold and if the export of gold from the country of origin of the foreign ore and the import of gold into the country of destination is permitted under the respective laws of the countries concerned.

Please keep the Department informed of any further developments of importance in regard to this mission.

  1. Approved January 30, 1934; 48 Stat. 337.