893.34/170: Telegram

The Minister in China ( Schurman ) to the Secretary of State


204. My no. 186 of May 1, 7 p.m.92 The Chinese Navy Department has sent me a memorandum dated May 4. It states that it is not proposed to reorganize China’s Navy for purposes of offense but for the following objects: (1) to protect foreign interests, particularly after extraterritoriality is abolished and foreign patrol ships are withdrawn; (2) to suppress pirates; (3) to perform general revenue and police duties; (4) to protect local waters. The memorandum also says that a properly trained navy of this kind could put a quick stop to internal disorders caused by military chiefs.

For the present the kinds of ships would be limited to gunboats and flying craft and to cruisers for coastwise patrol. The types and numbers would be decided later upon recommendations from a committee of naval advisers.

The kinds and numbers decided upon would determine the cost. Before other financial arrangements are made there must be negotiations with the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and a modified contract must be secured. At the present stage it is not possible to furnish additional details.

The basic question is whether the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and the American Government are ready to aid China in reorganizing its Navy. During the past decade the entire subject has been discussed many times. There remains nothing for further discussion and consideration. A categorical reply to the above question is what is now wanted. The Chinese Navy Department states that no long time is needed to cable this question and to receive a telegraphic reply.

  1. Not printed.