893.00/5498: Telegram

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

214. Your 329, September 7, 5 p.m. American forces should be employed for protection of American lives and property. You should, of course, understand that the Executive, unless otherwise authorized by Congress, can use American naval forces only for this purpose. This should be clear, but manifestly there are situations in which suitable protection of American lives and property will require appropriate cooperation. Such a situation is deemed to exist on Whangpu because of the commingling of foreign interests. You were therefore instructed that the exigencies of the situation there seemed to require appropriate cooperation with the naval authorities of the other Powers represented in those waters in keeping that stream open from Shanghai to the open sea. Statements in your 315, August 30, 4 p.m. show importance of this. Department hopes that traffic will be kept moving on the Whangpu without hindrance, and your 331, September 8, 1 p.m. confirms this view.

Preponderant naval forces of Powers on the Whangpu should be able to protect by their cooperation foreign shipping and thus suitably protect American lives and property without actual combat with Chinese forces.

As to Yangtze, it should be said that if restrictions imposed by Chinese should endanger American lives and property the American naval authorities would be expected to take the necessary steps to afford protection. Department assumed from your 324, September 6, 11 a.m., third paragraph, that such a situation had not yet arisen.