893.00/7126: Telegram

The Minister in China ( MacMurray ) to the Secretary of State

92. Following telegram has been received from American consul general, Canton:

“February 23, 6 p.m. Radio message was received just now from American destroyer, Hainan Island, reporting antiforeign and anti-Christian propaganda but thinking American lives and property in no immediate danger. American flag at the Kachek mission torn down by students but soldiers only watched. Chinese officer made a feeble attempt to prevent outrage and Commissioner of Foreign Affairs, Hainan, issued proclamation warning people against violence to foreigners. Commissioner and local magistrate have promised missionaries to protect American lives and property, so missionaries have returned to Kachek.

At Nodoa troops overran mission compound on February 5th, threatened American citizens and billeted in American mission school, presumably for Chinese boys.

According to a report unofficially from a Hainan missionary, several American-owned chapels occupied by soldiers and, in some, Christian inscriptions torn down and destroyed. Threatened strike against the mission has not developed.

[Page 696]

Destroyer reports mission does not desire presence of man-of-war but does wish ship to call fortnightly. As the mission has not rendered official report to the consulate general in spite of urgent requests, it is evident mission does not desire governmental assistance or interference except in grave necessity. There are 32 Americans on the island including women and children. I have repeatedly warned them not to reside at Kachek and other interior stations.

I am informed that there will be from four to six steamers monthly between Hainan and Hongkong. If this is confirmed, presence of destroyer will not be necessary, but I suggest that man-of-war call occasionally when practicable.

As troops did not take part in insulting flag and in view of the delicate political situation I suggest consulate general be instructed to insist upon written expression of regret from the Canton authorities respecting flag incident and promise to prevent further outrages and threats against Americans and their property, also that proclamation shall be issued at Kachek expressing regret and [warning?] people against insulting the flag of friendly nations.”

To which I have replied as follows:

“I approve suggestions in last paragraph. From your penultimate paragraph I am uncertain whether you definitely conclude that the presence of destroyer is not necessary. Reply at once by radio.”