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

No. 1605

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 369 of April 6, 1923,64 regarding the inadequacy [Page 745]of the American naval forces on the Upper Yangtze, and to inform the Department that I have requested the Consul-General at Hankow and the Consul at Chungking to forward to me for transmission to the Department any information on the matter which might be useful in bringing before Congress the necessity of increasing and strengthening the force on the Yangtze.

I regret to learn, however, from the enclosure to the above mentioned instruction that the Navy Department saw fit to include in its next budget estimates for only two river gun-boats. I consider the region bordering the Yangtze one of the chief centers of unrest in China, and the interference to which American religious and commercial enterprise is there subjected constitutes a grave menace to American prestige in China. The proper policing of the river would to a great extent obviate these dangers and would thereby create an area of quiet and safety which might gradually be extended over neighboring districts. I believe that at least six new river gun-boats should be provided for this purpose and I cannot too strongly urge upon the Department the pressing necessity of taking every possible step to assist in expediting any measures which may be deemed advisable to gain this end. The present naval force on the Yangtze, with its equipment, is laboring under almost insurmountable difficulties, and there is a general feeling of apprehension among all who realize that under the present conditions adequate protection to American lives and property in the region of the Yangtze cannot be afforded.

I shall send the Department all available material to bring before Congress. In the meantime I urgently recommend that the Navy Department itself be convinced of the necessity of raising the estimates which it has already included in its budget for additional river gun-boats.

I have [etc.]

Jacob Gould Schurman
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