The Minister in China (Crane) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received January 20—1:48 p.m.]
42. British Minister informs me Canton Government threatens to seize Maritime Customs Revenue February 1st unless Southern portion of surplus released to it. He proposes to inform Canton that in that event the British Government will effect trade embargo between Canton and Hong Kong and will send British military forces to protect customs house. He states that similar threat made under similar circumstances in 1918 with the concurrence of American, French and Japanese Legations and requests my concurrence now. The British Government apparently desires to assume the responsibility for the protection of customs especially in Canton. I informed British Minister of the Department’s 3, January 5, 5 p.m. and he urged me at once to inform the Japanese thereof and stated that the latter had informed him that it seemed a contradiction of policy for the diplomatic body not to give the Southern customs portion to the Government at Canton so long as the American Government was permitting the shipment of arsenal machinery to Canton. I have not yet discussed your telegram with any other legation. Please instruct.