393.1162/7: Telegram

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

148. My 142, March 22, 11 a.m.92 Following from American consul general at Canton.

“March 23, 1 p.m. Referring to my telegram of March 20, 1 p.m.92 Wuchow situation continues very threatening. Movement evidently developing amongst Chinese to demand possession of hospital. Serious anti-Christian, antiforeign rioting at Kweilin, Kwangsi Province, on March 12th and 13th. American [Baptist?] mission invaded and Chinese Christian beaten. At first troops gave protection but later commander lost courage and apologized to the radical leaders for protecting mission. I anticipate serious attempts to seize various mission properties in the near future unless we are [Page 701] prepared to call local authorities to account or Canton regime changes policy.

Situation in Canton growing tense. Respecting action of the Whampoa Cadets Saturday morning when the strike headquarters and Soviet Russian residences were surrounded by soldiers, I have just been informed reliably that General Chiang93 of Cadets has become suspicious of crew of the cruiser Wingfung [and] also of the attitude of certain strike leaders and Soviet Russians. With customary promptness his troops took control of cruiser and at the same time surrounded labor headquarters and all Soviet residences while searches were made for arms. A number of arrests were made including several Russians and some of General Chiang’s own followers at Whampoa. Great secrecy is being maintained by the officials but I am reliably informed Chiang will have no more Russian advisers, also that Cantonese General Li Chai-sum [Li chi-shen?] is lukewarm to Chiang and Wang Ching-wei, chairman of the Canton regime, disapproves of Chiang’s action. Moderates in the Government appear to support Chiang and seem to expect more conservative policy unless the Russians succeed in uniting Cantonese radicals and ousting Chiang and his Cadets. No immediate fighting is expected.”

Following inquiry has been received from the consul general at Canton, dated March 16, 11 a.m.:

[Paraphrase.] “Department’s 202, August 15, to Legation.94 There is an inclination on the part of Captain Constien to interpret this telegram as meaning the Navy is only to be used to protect American life and not property. Is this justified?”

I have replied to Jenkins on March 22, 5 p.m. as follows:

“Referring to your March 16, 11 a.m. Considering the last paragraph and the next to the last sentence of Department’s telegram 202 of August 5 [15], 1925, 1 p.m., to the Legation, it is our policy, stated in general terms, to distinguish between protecting American life and property, only employing destructiveness, especially fire action, for the former purpose. However, in view of the fact that, although these two situations are theoretically different, it is difficult in practice to make a clear differentiation between them, I consider that the interpretation of this policy must be made in the light of the particular circumstances and the policy applied according to the necessities in each instance. For example, the Department gave its approval to the procedure which you deemed expedient in the recent case concerning the proposal to revictual the American staff of the Canton hospital.” [End paraphrase.]

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Chiang Kai-shek.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. i, p. 760.