893.00/5502: Telegram

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

334. My 315, August 30, 4 p.m. On September 3d, Koo sent a secretary to each of the four Legations in question to make an oral reply to our démarche of August 30th. Message vague and unsatisfactory stated Government troops would spare no effort to protect foreign lives and property and assure safety of foreign settlements in Shanghai but omitted any reference to a declaration of neutrality of Whangpoo River and contained a louder [sic] reference to our declaration “that our Governments would not if requested intervene in the possible developments of the situation” which of course we never made.

In order to avoid misunderstanding British and Japanese Ministers, French Chargé d’Affaires and myself and Italian Minister, who was absent from Peking on August 30th but who on return joined us in our representations, have today sent memorandum to Minister for Foreign Affairs pointing out that while our Governments had no desire to intervene and did not wish to take sides they could not possibly allow naval engagement to take place in the Whangpoo River or its approaches and that they might have to take steps even possibly of a forcible nature to prevent such hostilities. [Page 371] Memorandum took note of assurances that no effort would be spared to protect foreign lives and property and foreign settlements Shanghai but expressed regret that Koo’s message contained no reference to neutralization of Whangpoo River.