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While the state of affairs now prevailing in Fengtien Province may be considered fairly satisfactory, it seems clear that the Kirin provincial authorities openly maintain a right to tax certificated goods once such goods are in Chinese hands.
My colleagues and I, whilst recognizing the very great difficulty in effectively protecting foreign goods in native hands, are unanimously of opinion that even a tacit admission of the principle involved can only tend to cause greater burdens to be levied on foreign trade; they would further submit that a protest from the diplomatic body against the standpoint assumed by the Kirin provincial authorities would at the present moment considerably strengthen the hands of the consuls in Manchuria in their efforts to keep foreign taxation in Manchuria within reasonable limits. I have (etc.),
MEMORANDUM ON THE TAXATION ON FOREIGN GOODS AND NATIVE GOODS UNDER
EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE IN THE THREE EASTERN PROVINCES, SUCH GOODS HAVING PASSED INTO THE HANDS OF CHINESE DEALERS.
In a question of this nature it is naturally very difficult to procure specific instances of illegal taxation, or indeed to obtain exact information. Chinese subjects for obvious reasons are reluctant to supply material to a foreign consul which they know will be used against their own authorities.
There are also but few Chinese merchants who confine their business to dealing in foreign goods, and in many cases it is impossible not to suspect that merchants of good standing have private arrangement with the tax collectors the nature of which it is against their interest to disclose.
Considerations such as these show that it is a matter of extreme difficulty to obtain clear proof that illegal taxation is being levied.
As far as Fengtien Province is concerned recent investigations seem to show that the present condition of affairs is fairly satisfactory. Neither the consulates at Mukden, nor those established at other open marts in the Province have any outstanding cases, although the Japanese consul at Liaoyang and the American consul at Antung report that consumption taxes are being openly levied within the areas of those marts from Chinese dealers.
On the other hand, at Mukden a Chinese storekeeper handling only foreign articles states that no attempt is made to collect local taxes from him, and there also seems to be a system in force that foreign goods bought directly from a foreigner are exempted on production of a bill of sale.
As far as can be ascertained, there is a general levy throughout the Province of a consumption tax averaging about 2 per cent ad valorem. This is collected sometimes on arrival of the goods at destination, sometimes at the end of each month on an assessment of the gross value of trade done by the particular merchant.
In the former case goods under exemption certificate would escape; in the latter, more especially as the majority of Chinese importers do not use exemption certificates, it would seem that foreign goods would pay their quota.
Further, after import, when exemption cargo is broken up into small parcels, it would be extremely difficult to protect it against a levy of this nature.
Speaking generally, from the absence of complaints it seems a not unwarrantable conclusion that the consumption tax is not heavy, on the whole collected reasonably, and that there is a desire on the part of the tax officials to avoid direct levies on exemption cargo.
In Kirin Province not only is the scale of taxation heavier, but there has been a constant effort on the part of the authorities to levy taxes on certificated goods.
At Ch'angch'un, and apparently all over the Kirin Province, the following taxes are in force:
(a) Kuan chuan, — of 0.07 per cent. (b) Chu chuan, — of 0.04 per cent.
These are known as the 7 and 4 “li” tax, and are generally levied from the importer.
(c) Mai ch'ien chuan, of 0.09 per cent, levied from the seller.
(e) Hill and sea tax, - This is a species of octroi, levied mainly on native goods. But marine products, kerosene, foreign vermicelli, and other articles are included in the tariff, which averages about 3 per cent ad valorem.
(f) Special excise taxes are levied on tobacco, wines, and spirits. In the case of tobacco the tax is 10 per cent ad valorem.
That these taxes have been and are still being levied on goods brought in under exemption certificates seems to need no specific proof. The Kirin authorities openly assume the attitude that they may tax such goods as of right once such goods are in the hands of Chinese merchants.
In a report from the Kirin customhouse sent to the American consul on the 28th of March, 1909, are the following statements:
In goods turned over to native merchants exemption certificates are of no avail and foreign merchants can not request the nonpayment on behalf of merchants who are acting as their agents.
The collectorate at Ch'angch'un levies duty on kerosene in addition to the 7, 4, 9 business tax, but in every case from Chinese merchants, and in no case from foreign merchants.
Mr. F. D. Cloud, then in charge of the American consulate general, submitted this document for the consideration of his colleagues, and it formed the basis of the identical note which the Mukden consular body sent in to the viceroy in June, 1909, and which was later transmitted to the various legations.
It would appear from the reply of the Wai-Wu Pu to the dean of the diplomatic body, dated February 22, 1910, that the governor of Kirin maintains the same attitude as his customs board. It is stated therein with reference to the 7 4 9 li taxes, “the above-mentioned taxes are all levied on the capital of Chinese merchants. With reference to the collection of 1 mace 5 candareens per case on kerosene oil this is levied on the business capital of Chinese merchants."
More recently in reply to protest against the levy of the kerosene tax brought forward by the American consul at Harbin, the commissioner of the foreign bureau at Kirin in a letter dated August 25, 1909, states “as to the tax of 7 4 9 li it is collected on the capital invested and the proceeds of goods sold, and not on the goods."
Again, on the 22d October in a further dispatch to Mr. Green on the same subject, the commissioner takes the stand “after foreign goods are sold to Chinese subjects and when the latter sell to each other they must, of course, pay the inland taxes according to the regulations."
On the 1st of December the Ch'angch'un Taot'ai wrote to H. B. M.'s consul general with reference to a claim to tax sugar imported by a British firm, " the regulation laid down by the tax office are to the effect that all goods, no matter what the nationality of the importer, must pay the 7 4 li tax on sale to Chinese merchants."
The exemption certificate only frees foreign merchants from payment of import duty and can not free native merchants from payment of tax on goods purchased. As Chien, the deputy points out, these taxes are levied from Chinese merchants and are no concern of foreigners. In this case the British firm in question complains that their goods, which are all imported under exemption certificates, are, on leaving their godowns, followed by the police and tax officials to the buyers' shops and that the police prevent cargo leaving the city until the buyers produce a certificate showing that the tax has been paid.
In a proclamation issued by the Ch'angch'un tax office in the ninth moon of the present year, clause 9 lays down specifically that purchasers of goods from foreign merchants must pay a buying tax of 1 per cent. Presumably this is the “ Ying Yeh" tax.
The Japanese consul at Ch'angch'un has, however, recently obtained a verbal promise from the Taot'ai that this claim will be withdrawn.
As regards tobacco an attempt was recently made to levy a tax of 10 per cent on goods imported by a British firm under certificate within the limits of the open mart of Ninguta. This question is still in the hands of the British consul at Harbin.
At present the consular body at Mukden have little or no information as to the treatment of goods in Hei Lung Chiang Province,
The Secretary of State to the American Minister.
DEPARTMEXT OF STATE,
Washington, May 1, 1911. SIR: The Department has read with interest your dispatch No. 200 of March 9, 1911, dealing with the levy in the Manchurian provinces of certain illegal taxes upon foreign goods after they have passed into Chinese hands.
The memorandum by the Japanese consul general at Mukden, which you inclosed, appears to supply adequate grounds for strong representations to the Chinese Gorernment upon this subject by the diplomatic body at Peking.
The Department is glad to learn from this memorandum that the situation in Fengtien is somewhat more satisfactory than in Kirin. At the same time it must not be forgotten that the consul at Antung has reported illegal taxation of American goods in that district. · Your action in suggesting to the American consular officers in Manchuria that they cooperate with their colleagues in attempting to effect local settlements of the complaints is approved by the Department, but it is hoped nevertheless that the diplomatic body at Peking will not delay to bring the matter to the attention of the foreign office also and endeavor to secure such action by that office as will tend to remedy the abuses of which complaint is made and prevent their recurrence. I am, etc.,
P. C. Knox.
PAYMENT OF CHANGSHA INDEMNITY CLAIMS.1
Flle No. 493.11a/9.
The American Minister to the Secretary of State.
Peking, February 28, 1911. Sir: Referring to the legation's telegram of October 16,' and of the Department's telegraphic reply thereto of October 22, with regard to the indemnity claims by American citizens growing out of the Changsha riots in April, 1910, I have the honor to inform you that I am in receipt of a note from the Wai-Wu Pu, dated the 23d instant, informing me that a settlement of these claims was effected between the two Chinese officials appointed by the viceroy of the Liang Hu Province and the American consul general at Hankow on January 28, 1911. The total award to the American claimants amount to 53,934.58 taels. The foreign office also inclosed copy of the agreement in Chinese and in English, and asked that I place it on the legation files.
A copy of the draft agreement was sent me by the consul general at l'ankow, requesting my approval and authorization for him to sign. After carefully perusing the agreement I authorized the consul general to sign it. A copy of the foreign office note and
1 See Foreign Relations, 1910, p. 352.
? Not printed. 44773-F B 1911- 11
of the agreement as signed are inclosed herewith. The consul general informs me that the American claimants have been paid. I have, etc.,
W. J. CALHOUN.
AGREEMENT IN SETTLEMENT OF CHANGSHA INDEMNITY CLAIMS.
Be it agreed that, inasmuch as on the fifth day of the third moon of the second year of Hanan Tung, being the 14th day of April, 1910, the famished people of Changsha, in the Province of Hunan, made certain disturbances, involving thereby foreign merchants and missionaries in losses, their excellencies Viceroy Jui of the Hu-Kuang and Governor Yang of the Province of Hunan, and his excellency James W. Calhoun, American Minister at Peking, have respectively appointed us, the Taotais Wang and Wang, and myself the American Consul, to discuss, impartially and with justice, a method of settlement in order that friendly feelings may be strengthened, and that discussion having now been completed and nothing having been omitted, we are finally settled upon the following:
The losses sustained by the American merchants and missionaries are as follows: Standard Oil Co---
- $38, 497. 45 United Evangelical Mission -
23, 893. 76 American Church MS
9, 895. 20 Dr. E. D. Vanderburgh------
1, 074. 47 Mustard and Co--
844. 50 Mrs. L. Berst (nee Newman)
187. 35 Total.
74,392. 53 which equals (0.725), 53,934.58 Hankow taels.
Wherefore, let it be understood that it is necessary to pay 53,934.58 Hankow taels.
This matter having been once settled, the said firms and missionaries shall not raise further questions or make fresh demands for compensation in this case.
Since the famished people of Changsha have made disturbances involving the foreign merchants and missionaries in losses, the local officials at Changsha will hereafter undertake to be more assiduous in their protection.
The above sum will be paid within one month from the date of the affixing of the signatures to this document at the branch of the Ta Ching Bank. Separate vouchers will be made for the money and some one will be appointed by the consul to go to the branch of the Ta Ch'ing Bank, to get and distribute the money.
Eight copies of the above articles must be made, both in Chinese and Eng. lish, and after the signatures have been affixed must be approved by Their Excellencies the Viceroy and Governor and His Excellency the American Minister at Peking, after which the eight copies shall be disposed of as follows: Wai Wu Pu.
---- 1 copy. American Legation
1 copy. Viceroy's Yamen
1 copy. Hukuang Foreign Office..
1 copy. Governor's Yamen.---
1 copy. Customs Taotai, Hankow ---
-- 1 copy. Customs Taotai, Changsha------
1 copy. American Consul, Hankow
File No 193.11a 10
AVERICAN CONSILATE GENERAL,
Hanko, Jark 25, 1911. SIR: I have the honor to report that I have received from representatives of the Viceror, and transmitted to the respective American claimants, the sum of 33,145.54 Hankow taels in payment of their claims for indemnity on account of the Changsha riots in April, 1910.
In the course of the negotiations with the Viceror's representatives, from figures supplied by them an error was committed whereby the total was agreed upon as 53,931.58 taels, and it was not discovered until after the moner had been received, when the surplus of 756.04 taels was immediately returned to them. From the pleased surprise which they showed I should say the incident has tended to increase their respect for the fairness of Americans in such matters. Duplicates of the receipts from the claimants and for the money returned to the Taotais' are inclosed herewith. I have, etc.,
R. B. MOSHER.
RUSSO-JAPANESE AGREEMENT AS TO RAILWAYS IN MANCHURIA, File No. 761.94/59.
The American Ambassador to Russia to the Secretary of State. No. 11.)
St. Petersburg, August 18, 1911. Sir: In continuation of this embassy's despatch No. 290, of July 23, 1910, and of previous despatches on the subject of the RussoJapanese agreement as to railways in Manchuria, I have the honor herewith to forward the French text (with translation) of a protocol signed here on the 14th instant and made public to-day. The elaborated agreement as to freight, I am informed, has been signed but is not yet in form to publish. The text inclosed is furnished by the Japanese Embassy. I have, etc.,
CURTIS GUILD. (Inclosure Translation.) The Imperial Russian Government and the Imperial Japanese Government, wishing to facilitate, in accordance with the provisions of the first supple
1 Not printed.
? See Foreign Relations, 1910, p. 835.