The Minister in China ( MacMurray ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 2—8:44 a.m.]
63. 1. Admiral Williams has referred to me, through naval attaché, a request of Navy Department for my opinion relative to proposed considerable reduction in destroyers attached to Asiatic Fleet. I consider the present a most inopportune time for any reduction. The political and military situations are so undefined and the temper of Chinese popular feeling so inflammable that it is impossible to predict what may eventuate even in the near future, especially as concerns the status of the foreigner. There can be no assurance that in any place where antiforeign agitations arise there will prove to be, on the part of Chinese, either the authority or the good will necessary to assure the proper protection of American interests. The necessity may, and in all probability will, arise again at any time for naval vessels to proceed instantly to any of a number of ports for the protection of American lives and property. By reason of their speed, destroyers have proved of particular value in cases arising in coastal cities.
2. I cannot too strongly urge that the Asiatic Fleet be maintained, at least as at present.