The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in China ( Johnson )
156. Tientsin’s May 13, 9 a.m., and your 247, May 16, 11 a.m. The Department concurs in the opinion expressed in the last substantive sentence of your telegram under reference and in connection therewith offers the following observations:
- In the opinion of the Department the imposition of import, export, and exchange restrictions which are non-discriminatory as amongst foreign powers or nationals does not afford a basis for protest as a violation of rights.
- The Department, however, regards such controls as severely restrictive and disruptive of international trade, and in pursuance of its trade policy it endeavors under ordinary conditions to use its influence to prevent or restrict the employment of these controls as protective devices. The circumstances under which such controls are employed by a state, however, and the objectives of their employment may not be ignored. In the present instance the controlling circumstance is the conduct in China of large-scale military operations by a foreign power and the ultimate objective of China’s employment of the controls in question is the continued existence of the Chinese state as a sovereign power. It is therefore the opinion of the Department that an approach to the Chinese Government along the line suggested in Tientsin’s telegram under reference would not be appropriate.
- Import, export, and exchange control systems lend themselves readily to practices of discrimination. The Embassy should watch vigilantly for developments of this kind which might call for representations.
- In the opinion of the Department, this Government’s position in regard to any import, export, or exchange controls which may be established by the provisional régimes in Peiping and Nanking will not be weakened by failure to make representations in Hankow. This Government does not recognize those régimes and its policy in the event that those régimes take steps which are inimical to American interests is to hold the Japanese Government responsible.
Repeat to Tientsin, Peiping, Shanghai and Tokyo.