Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Johnson)

  • Conversation.
    • The Italian Ambassador, Nobile Giacomo de Martino.
    • The Secretary of State.
    • Mr. Nelson T. Johnson present.

Subject: Attitude of United States Government towards question of coöperation with British Government in firmer policy in China.

The Italian Ambassador called to see the Secretary under instructions from his Government to inquire as to the attitude of this Government towards the question of cooperation with the British Government in firmer action in China. The Ambassador stated that Mr. Mussolini’s telegram to him indicated by its wording that some suggestion may have come to him that the British and American Governments contemplated joint action. The Secretary informed the Italian Ambassador that the British Government had not approached him with regard to joint action in connection with the Wanhsien affair on the Yangtze. The Secretary stated that this Government has not given any consideration to the question of joint [Page 631] action; that it had considered that the affair at Wanhsien was very much an affair between Great Britain and China. He stated that standing instructions to our naval forces in the Far East empowered them to give every possible protection to American life and property and that he understood that cooperative arrangements existed between the naval forces of the several Powers whereby each naval force extended protection in an emergency to the lives of other friendly nationals when the naval forces of those nationals were not present, and recited the incident of the assistance given to British wounded by an American naval vessel near Hankow. He stated to the Ambassador that this Government not only did not contemplate any joint action but that he believed that there was hardly any occasion for joint action at the present time.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]