893.51/1996: Telegram

The Chargé in China (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State

Acting upon information from various sources including the Inspector General of Maritime Customs in the absence of instructions I am addressing to Canton the following instructions.

“Urgent. The Legation has received an intimation that it is the intention of those now in control in Canton to seize the customs house at that port. Under agreement with Chinese Government the [Page 492] Government of the United States has certain legal claims upon revenues of the Maritime Customs (without regard to locality) as security for obligations of the Chinese Government; and it could not therefore regard with equanimity a sequestering of any portion of those revenues by any group other than the recognized party to such obligations.

It is desired that you bring this view to the attention of those constituting the beginning [sic] of ‘Canton Government’ with a discreet intimation that any such action as reported to be contemplated by them would tend to alienate whatever sympathy that might be felt for the political purposes which they profess.

The Legation has no information to substantiate the rumors that our Government has under consideration the recognition of the independence or of the belligerency of the southern provinces.”

There are current here rather detailed reports in regard to inquiries made by the Japanese Ambassador as to the unwritten Protectorate [sic] regarding recognition of the independence or belligerency of Kwangtung and other southern provinces of China, which included the statement that the Secretary of State had indicated his opinion that the request for recognition is not seriously considered by the American Government. I venture to suggest that it would be helpful to the Legation to receive definite information on this subject and on other matters involving decisions in regard to our Government’s policy towards Chinese questions.