893.5045/324: Telegram

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

159. 1. The American consul [general] at Canton informed me by his despatch number 398 of March 8, 1926, copy of which I am sending by next pouch,23 that the Standard Oil Company had renewed its request for naval convoy from Hongkong to Wuchow, Kwangsi, the company desiring to send large quantity of petroleum products there where the so-called oil monopoly is not in force, that the cargo could not be safely moved unless protected against pirates and possible interference by boycott pickets through that area under Canton régime, and further that the military authorities in Wuchow had given the company undertaking in writing to prevent difficulties with strikers or others (presumably in Kwangsi territory) if oil were shipped up from Hongkong. He further reported that important area of Kwangsi Province can only be reached effectively by the West River and that it seemed highly important that, if possible, means should be taken to keep this open to American trade, providing danger of complications with the Cantonese authorities were not too [Page 720] great. He also stated that it was not contemplated that naval vessels should participate in forcing delivery of oil, since, if local authorities at Wuchow were incapable of preventing disorder during unloading, company could return entire shipment to Hongkong.

2. To his request for telegraphic instructions I have replied as follows:

[Paraphrase]

“March 31, 5 p.m. Although I am of the opinion that in convoying Standard Oil lighters to Wuchow we would be acting well within our rights under article 9 of the American treaty with China, 1858,24 I consider it inexpedient to do so at present. I have come to this conclusion after considering the possibility that the difficulties of the situation at Canton at this time may be resolved soon as a result of anti-Soviet action taken there recently, and the probability, in case of need to resort to actual force during the convoy against strike pickets, of an undesirable reaction against our position, particularly in the Canton area and generally in China, which at present is relatively favorable.”

MacMurray
  1. Not printed.
  2. Malloy, Treaties, 1776–1909, vol. i, p. 214.