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view of the fact that the British Government is evidently according the same treatment to the Government at Canton as to that at Nanking in the matter of the sale of munitions of war. Respectfully yours,






The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State No. 814

PEIPING, February 18, 1931.

[Received March 26.] SIR: I have the honor to enclose, for the consideration of the Department, copy of despatch No. 6776 of January 28, 1931, from the American Consul General at Shanghai to the Legation concerning the protection, in the event of the relinquishment of extraterritorial jurisdiction, of the rights of American citizens in respect to land tenure in China.

The Department's attention is particularly invited to the penultimate paragraph of Consul General Jenkins' letter which states in part:

.. the High Court of Kiangsu handed down a decision on December 30, 1930, confirming the judgment of the Shanghai Special District Court to the effect that foreigners are not authorized under the treaties to hold land outside of the treaty ports in this instance the Shanghai International Settlement. This decision seems to indicate that the Chinese authorities are tending to exclude Americans and other foreigners (except possibly missionaries) from holding perpetual leases on land outside the definitely prescribed limits of treaty ports and foreign settlement areas." Such court decisions cannot but lead to the fear that there will be endless complications in the future unless, in any agreement regarding the relinquishment of extraterritorial jurisdiction, definite provision is made to safeguard the existing property rights of bona fide American non-missionary lessees who hold duly stamped leases-in-perpetuity for property located in treaty ports which have never been clearly delimited by the Chinese authorities, or for property in treaty ports, such as Shanghai, the limits of which have been at least tacitly recognized by the Chinese authorities, who, liberally interpreting treaty provisions, have in times past stamped deeds for property


Continued from Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. II, pp. 567-575.
Not printed.
* For negotiations, see pp. 716 ff.

leased in perpetuity by American merchants and other non-missionary lessees in areas adjacent to but technically outside of the limits of the treaty ports in question. Respectfully yours,



The Secretary of State to the Minister in China (Johnson)

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No. 407

WASHINGTON, February 26, 1931. Sir: The Department has received your despatch No. 729 of January 14, 1931, and its enclosures,on the subject of consular procedure in China in regard to the issuance of title deeds in that country. The Department notes the statement contained in your despatch that the issuance of consular title deeds in the name of American citizens where the property is actually owned by Chinese is a practice almost entirely confined to Shanghai.

Your despatch No. 729 also referred to a demand recently made by the Land Bureau of the Municipality of Greater Shanghai that foreign renters of land situated outside the Settlement areas furnish a statement through the consular office concerned with regard to the actual ownership of the land and with regard to the owner's intentions in respect to its development. In that connection you enclosed a copy of your communication of December 20, 1930, to the Consul General at Shanghai, in which you instructed that he satisfy himself in each instance of the existence of a bona fide American interest. You further instructed the Consul General that the demand of the Chinese Land Bureau for a statement from foreign lessees of land situated outside the Settlement areas, in respect to the purpose for which the land had been acquired and the developments to be made thereon, could not be objected to when the land is located in the interior, since by treaty the ownership of such land is limited to American missionary societies to be used by them for missionary purposes. With regard to land situated in the port of Shanghai, whether within or without the Settlement areas, you instructed the Consul General that you did not feel that the Chinese authorities could properly insist upon a statement being given other than a general assurance that the land is being acquired for purposes specified in the treaties. In your communication to the Consul General you also referred to the possibility that the Chinese authorities might soon extend the requirement of proof of foreign ownership to land located inside the Settlement areas.

You observed that the present system, whereby title

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deeds are issued to non-beneficial owners, is both unsound and unsatisfactory and one which eventually should be abolished. You therefore suggested to the Consul General that he consult his interested colleagues with a view to the discontinuance of that practice of land holding in the Settlement areas, at least with regard to new purchases of land. You added that this question was being referred to the Department for instructions.

The Department has carefully considered your despatch and its enclosures and perceives no reason why a general instruction on this subject, as foreshadowed in its instruction No. 1350 of September 16, 1929,9 should not now be issued. You are accordingly requested to instruct the American consular officers in China, except the Consul General at Shanghai, to take no further steps looking toward the issuance of a title deed to property in China in the name of an American citizen unless satisfied that there is a substantial American interest in the property.

With regard to the procedure at Shanghai, you are informed that the Department approves your communication of December 20, 1930, to the Consul General at that port. With respect to the extension of the principle stated in the preceding paragraph to land situated in the International Settlement and the French Concession at Shanghai, the Department considers that it would be desirable for a uniform practice to be established by all the powers concerned. Before issuing any further instructions on this point, the Department will therefore await a report from the Legation setting forth the result of the Consul General's negotiations with his interested colleagues on this subject and the Legation's recommendations in the premises. Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:




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893.5211/34 : Telegram
The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

PEIPING, March 27, 1931–5 p. m. [Received March 27–9:25 a. m.]

] 172. Reference Senior Minister's circular No. 20 of March 20 [4], 1930.6 Following has been received from Hankow:

"March 26, 3 p. m. Vernacular newspapers have published a proclamation issued by the Bureau of Finance of the Hankow Municipal Government requiring the submission of white deeds' for stamp


. Not printed.
Contracts between individual parties.

ing before April 1, failing which a fine is to be imposed. I have received no official notice of this requirement. Owners of white deeds hesitate to submit them for stamping and in view of Legation's circular instructions No. 393 of December 13, 1929, and No. 5 of February 14, 1930, I respectfully request telegraphic instructions as to what advice should be given holders of white deeds that have not been stamped of which there are a considerable number recorded in this consular jurisdiction.”

Department's telegraphic instructions are requested as soon as possible.

For the Minister:


893.5211/34 : Telegram The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in China (Johnson)

WASHINGTON, April 6, 1931–1 p. m. 129. Your 172 of March 27, 5 p. m.

1. The Department notes that the proclamation referred to is apparently similar to a proclamation communicated in Hankow's despatch to the Legation No. 631 of February 7, 1929.10

2. The Department suggests that Hankow, in replying to inquiries that may be made by American holders of white deeds, might inform such holders: (a) that the general question of the validity of foreign land titles and of the payment of fees on land transactions is among the questions which are being given consideration in connection with the negotiations on extraterritoriality; (b) that while the Department is of course endeavoring to insure the recognition by the Chinese authorities of all legal and equitable property rights of American citizens in China, no assurance can be given as to the result of its negotiations on this subject and accordingly American holders of white deeds must rely on their own judgment in determining whether to apply for red deeds.

3. In the case of future land transactions, not involving the question of the fees on previous land transactions, the Department considers that American citizens seeking to acquire title to land would be well advised to obtain red deeds in all cases where the procedure is based on reasonable Chinese legislation.

4. The Department would be glad to have your views, together with an indication of the attitude of your interested colleagues.


When so approved, the deeds become “red deeds."
* Neither printed.
10 Not printed.



The Secretary of State to the Minister in China (Johnson) No. 507

WASHINGTON, June 8, 1931. Sir: The Department has received the Legation's despatch No. 899, March 27, 1931," on the subject of regulations of the Mokanshan Administrative Bureau (Chinese) prohibiting the purchase by foreigners of land at Mokanshan, a summer resort in Chekiang Province, and providing that foreigners who have already acquired property at that place may transfer their property to Chinese purchasers only.

The Department has noted the Legation's statement that the Chinese previously granted to foreigners, as a courtesy, the right to purchase land at this interior point, and the Legation's opinion that the more recent action of the Chinese in withdrawing this privilege constitutes no valid ground for protest so long as the existing titles of American citizens to land at Mokanshan are not impaired by the regulations promulgated by the Chinese authorities.

Having in mind the Legation's statement that the privilege of purchasing perpetual leases of land at Mokanshan was granted originally as a courtesy by the Chinese authorities to foreigners, it would appear to the Department that no sound ground exists for protest against the discontinuance of that privilege in so far as the purchase of new perpetual leases by Americans from Chinese is concerned. With respect to leases already acquired by Americans, the matter has a somewhat different aspect.

It may be presumed that American owners of perpetual leases at Mokanshan have in some instances expended material sums of money upon the land covered thereby in construction and improvements in reliance upon the then existing right to dispose of such leases in an unrestricted market. The effect of the regulations under discussion is to restrict that market.

While the Department does not desire that any protest be made at this time against this effect of the regulations, it does desire that the Legation report any instance coming to its attention in which existing American property rights have been impaired as a result of the administration of the regulations. Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:



11 Not printed.

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