893.00/5535: Telegram

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

354. My 334, September 8, 5 p.m. Koo has replied in a lengthy memorandum reiterating the charge that Chekiang started the fighting, which of course is untrue, taking exception to our statement that we might have to use forcible measures to prevent fighting in Whangpoo River, renewing assurances of desire to safeguard foreign lives and property in Shanghai, expressing desire to restrict as much as possible area of military operations and with this in view making a statement of China’s views as to neutralization of “certain areas of Shanghai and Woosung.”

Memorandum does not specifically ask foreign representatives to mediate but even if it is so intended we are unanimously of opinion that we should be unable to do so as terms for neutralization of Shanghai which Koo proposes are of such a nature that for us to [Page 378] present them to Chekiang faction would be tantamount to inviting them to give large military advantage to Kiangsu. Terms include dismantling of Woosung forts and closing of arsenal and powder factory all of which are in hands of Chekiang forces, disarming of Chekiang gunboats in Whangpoo River and disarming of Chekiang troops in area to be neutralized in return for which area of 5 miles around Shanghai, 3 miles around Woosung forts and the banks of the Whangpoo are to be neutralized.

Representatives of Italy, Great Britain, Japan and France and I have accordingly replied this afternoon as follows:

“While the five representatives welcome the statement therein contained that it is in line with the policy of the Chinese Government to restrict as much as possible the area of the military operations between the Kiangsu and Chekiang forces, they regret that they are unable to express any opinion on the scheme outlined in the Wai Chiao Pu’s memorandum for the neutralization of certain areas of Shanghai and Woosung, as the realization of any such project must obviously be left to the contending parties to settle by agreement among themselves. The five representatives earnestly hope that an arrangement for the neutralization of the area surrounding Shanghai and the Whangpoo River including its mouth at Woosung may be reached but they must again impress upon the Chinese Government that failing such agreement between the combatants they must maintain the declaration made in their memorandum of September 7th that their respective Governments cannot possibly allow a naval engagement to take place in the Whangpoo River and its approaches and that they reserve to themselves the right to take steps even of a forcible nature to prevent such hostilities or any interference with foreign shipping between the port of Shanghai and the open sea.”