The Consul General at Canton ( Jenkins ) to the Minister in China ( MacMurray )97

No. 422

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 414 of April 7, 1926,98 and to report that the radical elements in the Government now seem to be gaining strength so rapidly that it is becoming a question whether they may not expel the moderates before the latter finally muster sufficient energy and courage to put the radicals out.

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Threats To Seize American Mission Properties

In this Consulate General’s Despatch No. 419 of April 13, 1926,99 reference was made to the fact that Chinese agitators had begun to advocate the seizure of the American Southern Baptist Hospital at Wuchow. This movement now appears to be spreading for similar propaganda has been started in Canton with respect to the Canton Hospital. According to the native press the Hongkong strike committee is urging that the Canton hospital property be “borrowed” by the strike committee as a hospital for its members. It will be recalled that the Canton hospital, like the institution in Wuchow, was forced to close its doors some weeks ago because of the failure of the local authorities to protect it from the unreasonable demands of so-called labor organizations.

In addition to the two hospitals trouble has been stirred up in the Canton Christian College between the labor organization at that institution and the student body. Every effort is being made to smooth out these differences but the indications are that the local authorities are siding with the labor element as against the students and that if a settlement is not reached in the near future the college may be forced to close its doors.

As soon as this is accomplished a movement will undoubtedly be started urging the Chinese authorities to take over this splendid institution which owes its existence entirely to American missionary efforts.

Similar labor difficulties are being fomented at the John Kerr Hospital for the Insane, another American institution which has done a great work in Canton. A labor union has been formed amongst the employees in this hospital and it is not unlikely that exorbitant demands will soon be forthcoming which may necessitate the closing of the hospital, in spite of the fact that it is now housing 700 Chinese patients.

As was pointed out in this Consulate General’s Despatch No. 419 it is becoming increasingly evident that the Communists and radical members of the Kuomintang party in Canton are following a definite plan to force the American Missionary institutions in South China to close their doors in order that an excuse may exist for the Chinese authorities to seize them. Millions of dollars have been invested by American missionary organizations in this part of China and some splendid hospitals and educational institutions have been built up through the course of 75 years. If the present campaign is allowed to continue and no pressure is brought to bear upon the local authorities to protect these institutions I feel convinced they will be ruined and ultimately seized by the authorities who are now entirely under the control of the radical elements bent upon destroying the work of the Christians in this part of the world.

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As has been pointed out repeatedly in the past it will not be sufficient to protest to the local authorities against the seizure of these institutions for protests will have no effect whatever. If the United States Government is to intervene effectively sharp warnings will have to be addressed to the Canton regime and we should be prepared to follow these warnings with force if need be. If we are not prepared to take these drastic steps then I fear we must expect to see the results of nearly a century of missionary effort swept away in the course of another 6 or 12 months.

In order that the Legation may realize that the writer of this despatch is not alone in viewing the present situation in Canton with alarm, a copy of a letter dated April 12 from Dr. J. Oscar Thomson, President of the American Association of South China is enclosed,1 in which he points to the danger of American missionary institutions being seized, and suggests that the American Association appeal to the United States Government for protection. While I deemed it advisable to caution Dr. Thomson against undertaking to send any communication directly to the local authorities and also advised against resorting to publicity locally, I told him frankly that the Consulate General would welcome any expressions of opinion which the American Association may see fit to address directly or through this office to the Department of State.

With respect to the dangers to which American missionary institutions may be exposed it should be explained that the entire situation would be greatly improved from the American point of view if and when the moderate elements in the Kuomintang party should gain complete control.

I have [etc.]

Douglas Jenkins
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the consul general as an enclosure to his despatch No. 498, Apr. 14; received May 19.
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