The Consul General at Canton ( Bergholz ) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 12.]
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s unnumbered and undated instruction (File No. 893.00/3902)16 stating that the Department had received despatch D. No. 258 of May 7, 1921,17 from Mr. Vice Consul Price reporting upon the political conditions in the Canton District and forwarding a sealed letter addressed to the President, which the Vice Consul had been asked to transmit, without, however, indicating in the text of the covering despatch who the writer of the letter is, but that the Department had assumed that the communication was from Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The Department further writes that the sealed envelope or letter will be found as an enclosure and directs me to see that it is, “promptly returned to the sender with a proper oral expression of regret at your (my) inability to forward it”.
As directed by the Department Mr. Vice Consul Price has been cautioned against the irregularity of permitting the Consulate General to make itself a vehicle of official communication for an organization in revolt against a Government with which the United States is in friendly relations. It is, however, impossible for me to deliver the letter to the sender who is, as the Department assumes, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, as the envelope has been opened since it was forwarded to the Department and its return to Dr. Sun in that condition would require an explanation from me which I am unable to give. Had the envelope been returned to this office sealed the Department’s instruction regarding its delivery to Dr. Sun could easily have been carried out. In view of the positive order of the Department as to the method of the return of the document I do not feel at liberty to use my own judgment in the matter which would be to hand it to Dr. Sun with a statement that since Mr. Price had failed to indicate in the covering despatch transmitting the letter the name of the writer the Department had opened the envelope and upon seeing that it came from Dr. Sun has felt compelled to decline to transmit it to the President of the United States.
Since over three months have passed since the letter was forwarded to the Department and as it will take nearly the same time before the reply to this despatch can be received can not the Department [Page 342] see its way to let the incident pass into oblivion and to spare Dr. Sun, the one honest and patriotic administrator in China, the mortification of having his letter returned to him.
I have [etc.]