File No. 763.72115/3320

The British Ambassador on Special Mission ( Reading ) to the Secretary of State

No. 600

Memorandum

The British Ambassador presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and with reference to the Embassy memorandum of May 23d relative to the proposed deportation to Australia of enemy subjects in China1 has the honour to state that representations have been made by the Vatican and the King of Spain appealing to His Majesty’s Government on the grounds of humanity to avoid suffering which the contemplated deportation and retaliatory measures threatened by the German Government will inflict on innocent persons of enemy and Allied nationalities.

The Chinese Government concur in His Majesty’s Government’s suggestions that the British Government should reply on behalf of all the Governments which are parties to the arrangement with the Chinese Government on the following lines:—

The representations are evidently based on a misunderstanding of the situation and of the reasons which have impelled the Chinese Government to arrange with the British, French, Italian, Japanese Portuguese and the United States Governments for the removal to Australia of German and Austro-Hungarian subjects resident in China.

The presence of a great number of uncontrolled German and Austrian prisoners-of-war in Siberia, in close proximity to Chinese, with whom enemy subjects in China might attempt to hold communications and to concert measures which would disturb the internal tranquility of China, the unsettled conditions of parts of the Chinese dominions and the necessity of preventing China from continuing to be used, as she notoriously was before her entry into the war, as a dangerous centre of intrigue and conspiracy on the part of the nations of the Central Powers, claiming to shelter themselves behind extraterritorial privileges and rights of residents in foreign concessions and settlements in treaty ports, rendered it essential in the interests both of China herself and of her co-belligerents that [Page 651] these enemy subjects should be placed under close supervision. It was obviously impossible for the Chinese authorities to exercise the necessary supervision and control over enemy residents, if they were left at large in foreign concessions in which they had been accustomed to live, nor outside of such concessions are there any places in China sufficiently remote from the northern frontier, where suitable accommodation exists for their internment. In these circumstances the closeness of supervision, to which it will be necessary to subject them, would be detrimental to the health of Europeans in the Chinese climate.

Deportation to and internment in a climate where Europeans thrive is, therefore, preferable in every way to internment in China, as well as more humane. The choice of Australia will, owing to its remoteness from the seat of war, enable much greater liberty to be allowed to enemy subjects when they arrive there.

Enemy deportees from China will be interned in Australia in precisely similar conditions to those adopted in the case of enemy subjects already placed under surveillance by the Government of the Commonwealth. Every reasonable provision will be made for the safety and comfort of deportees during the voyage, and arrangements will be made to avoid, as far as possible, separating families or causing any unnecessary hardships. It will be seen, therefore, that deportation to Australia, as arranged between the Chinese Government and the above-mentioned Associated Governments, will be of decided advantage to the health and comfort of German and Austro-Hungarian subjects now in China.

His Majesty’s Government do not propose to submit the suggested reply to the Chinese Government, as the German threat does not appear to have been addressed to them, and they have already received at their request from the Associated Governments a guarantee against enemy reprisals.

  1. Not printed.