Mr. Adee to Count G. de Lichtervelde.

No. 239.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 16th instant, informing me, by instruction of your Government, of the organization of a Belgian volunteer contingent of some 600 men, to cooperate with the military action of the powers of China, and expressing the hope—

that the Government of the United States will consent to combine the military action of the body of Belgian volunteers, which will be taken in accordance with international law and usage, with that of the allied forces now operating in China.

As the relief of the legation in Pekin, which is the primary object of the joint operations now in progress in the province of Chih-li, seems to be progressing to a successful issue, to achieve which further cooperation may not be necessary, the contingency of the joint action of the proposed Belgian force may be deemed to relate to the future course of the powers interested in restoring order and conserving the territorial and administrative entity of the Chinese Empire in such wise as to safeguard the interests and commerce of the nations in [Page 310] China. Concerning the manner of attaining these ends, it does not appear at this time that united military action for the future can be definitely agreed upon.

The purpose and general policy of the United States in regard to the restoration of order and responsible government in China were fully set forth in the circular communication made to the interested powers by the Secretary of State on the 3d of July last,1 a copy of which I inclose for your more convenient reference. In this policy the powers have generally acquiesced. For the furtherance of these purposes the Government of the United States will be grateful to have the Belgian volunteers cooperate, in the event of any necessity for such cooperation existing at the time of their arrival in China.

As regards the statement you make that the Belgian corps “would, of course, be placed under the direct command of the leaders upon whom the direction of military operations may devolve,” the views of the Government of the United States as to conducting joint operations under one superior command are expressed in our reply to the German inquiry concerning the selection of Field Marshal Count von Waldersee as chief commander of the foreign forces operating in Chib-li. In my telegraphed reply of August 10, I instructed the United States chargé d’affaires in Berlin as follows:

The general commanding the forces in China has already been authorized to agree with other commanders as to a common official direction of the various forces in their combined operations, preserving the integrity of his American division as a separate organization.

As a considerable time must elapse before Count Waldersee can reach China, and conditions are rapidly changing, it would seem desirable to leave questions of method to be determined in view of the conditions which may then exist. The suggestion of His Majesty the German Emperor, that one or more military officers of each nationality should be attached to the headquarters of Count Waldersee to maintain communication with the national contingent, meets the approval of this Government.

Accept, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.
  1. Printed p. 299.