File No. 861.77/451
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Morris)
Information coming to the Department indicates that the Japanese Government intends to make a proposal to the Chinese [Page 240]Eastern Railway Co. to change the gauge on the Chinese Eastern Railroad to conform to the gauge on the South Manchuria Railroad. It seems very inadvisable that this be done because a change in the gauge of any part of the Trans-Siberian system would render physically impossible transportation over that part of the system of rolling stock belonging to the system. Further it would tend to disrupt the system.
It has been suggested that the members of the Stevens railroad mission be commissioned in the United States Army. This Government is opposed to the incorporation with the American armed forces of this civilian commission which was sent to Siberia to serve the best interests of the Russian people. The members of these railroad units are the agents of Russian people and are being paid and supported by their Ambassador here from funds belonging to them, and it is felt that further complications would not arise and best results would be had if Mr. Stevens for and in behalf of the Russian people were to have general direction of the Trans-Siberian and the Chinese Eastern Railways and their several branches. In so far as is concerned that part of the Chinese Eastern which lies within Chinese territory some member of the commission chosen by the Chinese Government in consultation with Stevens should have the management in coordination with other members of the commission on other branches of the Trans-Siberian Railroad under the general direction of Mr. Stevens.
This would necessitate the displacement of Horvat1 and the old Russian agents. While the roads are used by the military forces it would be the duty of Stevens and the members of the mission to serve the requirements of the military forces.
In reply to your telegram of August 26, 12 p.m., you are informed that the American Government does not intend to approve or disapprove the sending by Japan of forces to Manchouli and you may say to the Japanese Foreign Office that the American Government has no desire to impugn the motives of the Japanese Government in sending troops to Manchouli; that the preservation of Russian interests and the success of the expedition in aid of the Czechs are primary considerations of this Government and that this Government will be glad to have the cooperation of the Imperial Japanese Government to the end that the railways be operated by the engineers chosen by the last recognized Government of Russia and to further the efforts of those engineers to take charge, put the lines in as good working order as possible and operate them during the military occupation subject to the requirements of the military forces.
Please telegraph at once the reception given this proposal.[Page 241]
Repeat to Peking and send to Vladivostok with instructions to communicate confidentially to Stevens and with directions to him to await further advices.