893.00/5573: Telegram

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

364. Chang Tso-lin having bombed Shanhaikwan several times recently by aeroplane although with small success and having, it is reported, also announced intention of bombing Peking, the commandants of the various legation guards memorialized diplomatic body of danger to Legation Quarter from such attacks; as result of which diplomatic body resolved to send memorandum on the subject to the Chinese Government and to Chang. Memorandum sent yesterday summarized as follows:

“Outbreak of hostilities in China makes probable the extensive use of aircraft in conduct of campaign. Though resolved not to interfere in any way in regrettable conflict the heads of legations in Peking deem it necessary to point out that they view with gravest concern use of this weapon against objectives other than military forces in the field, fortified places, or naval units. Bombing of undefended towns is act of wanton destruction and crime against peaceful population. Inaccuracy of bombing such that all buildings in immediate neighborhood of objective are in great danger. In Peking there are not only legations but numerous palaces, temples, and other historical buildings which are monuments of great value in history of mankind. Bombing of towns and villages cannot have military value and can only cause great misery and suffering to inoffensive noncombatants and destruction of priceless monuments. Moreover lives and property of foreign nationals who are nonparticipants and who intend to maintain absolute neutrality would be put in grave and constant danger. For these reasons the heads of legations feel it their duty to make this appeal and while giving expression to this [their satisfaction] that intention was made known to afford full protection to lives and property of foreigners they trust that no air attacks will be made endangering the lives of their nationals. However should foreign lives be lost or property destroyed as a result of aeroplane attack on Peking or any treaty port they would feel obliged to hold the authority who ordered the attack strictly responsible therefor.”