The Chargé in China (Bell) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 17—9:18 a.m.]
353. Your 216, September 13, 4 p.m. British Minister has today received telegram from British consul general at Shanghai stating that Admiral Anderson, commanding British Yangtze Patrol and senior foreign naval officer present at Shanghai, has now informed the Chekiang gunboats that they must not leave the Whangpoo, has informed the Nanking admiral of this action and has also informed Nanking admiral that he must not enter the Whangpoo.
I trust this will meet the Department’s views as to neutrality. To force the Chekiang gunboats to leave Whangpoo River would perhaps cause an engagement with Nanking navy and to allow Nanking naval force to enter Whangpoo could only result in precipitating a naval engagement in that river which we are agreed is to be considered as forming the port of Shanghai and which is the one thing above all others, that in the interest of protecting foreign life and property, we have been striving to prevent, and which I venture to point out we have up to the present been successful in preventing.
Admiral Washington agrees in foregoing.