The Minister in China (Reinsch) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received June 10, 3.15 p.m.]
Naval Intelligence officer, Shanghai, telegraphed [situation?] very critical because of proclamation general strike, also that Municipal [Page 697]Council proposes to order that all Chinese wearing boycott badges shall be expelled from the settlement.
I have telegraphed the Consul General that such a decision would be very dangerous and would undoubtedly bring on a general anti-foreign movement, that we should avoid everything that would involve us in forcible opposition to a nation wide movement of China and that he should use every possible influence to prevail on his colleagues and the Municipal Council to confine action to police protection against actual violence and possibly the prevention of parades and other demonstrations which might lead to rioting.
Naval Intelligence officer says situation is likely to result in anti-foreign feeling culminating in an anti-foreign uprising and that pending arrival [omission?] the Japanese naval personnel and general public are aggravating the situation by their arrogant attitude. It is plain that the whole policy of the Japanese has been to involve other foreigners in the odium which exists against Japan. Their purpose would be accomplished if stringent international measures were taken against the boycott movement as then all foreigners would be classed together. To avoid this dangerous situation, to dissociate ourselves from the Japanese Government in this matter and yet not to assume an anti-Japanese attitude, will require great care. It may, however, be necessary to make it plain that America is not concerned in the boycott and considers it exclusively a Chinese affair towards which it is not called upon to take any repressive measures.
I do not believe that the concentration of a large international naval force at Shanghai will help matters. It would be better by far if the Japanese were prevailed upon to reduce their forces and if each nation were only represented with one ship which would be sufficient for any emergency. The presence of large Japanese forces in Chinese waters at present endangers American and European [omission].