893.5045/377: Telegram

The Chargé in China ( Mayer ) to the Secretary of State

401. 1. The substance of Department’s 185, September 7, 7 p.m., and first paragraph Legation’s 384, September 9, 3 p.m.,33 were transmitted to the commander in chief, United States Asiatic Fleet, in accordance with last paragraph Department’s 185 above mentioned. Commander in chief has now replied to following effect:

“Commander in chief does not consider it necessary that the Navy Department be asked to issue new instruction. He notes the policy of the State Department as contained in your construction of the Department’s instructions and is prepared to direct the commander of the South China Patrol to be guided by them. The commander in chief understands that Banbury has been afforded no protection by our Navy. That part of the Department of State’s policy which requires [Page 728] that ‘all available protection is to be afforded to American citizens who on their lawful occasions make use of this or similar commercial enterprises’ will present practical difficulties to our naval officers as regards Banbury’s boats. To endeavor to protect his boats on every occasion on which they may carry an American among their passengers and not protect them at other times would almost inevitably lead to misunderstandings and disagreeable incidents. It is suggested that Americans be notified that it will be impracticable for the Navy to give them physical protection if they use Banbury’s boats.”

2. I must concur in the Admiral’s opinion regarding practical difficulties which naval officers will encounter in putting into effect a distinction to be made in respect of operation of legitimate commercial enterprises such as Banbury’s by American citizens and their use of the same on their lawful occasions. Furthermore I respectfully submit my apprehension that it may be difficult for the Canton consulate general to explain the distinction to American citizens in South China, who in all likelihood will construe it to mean that we will not protect American citizens whose interests would otherwise be safeguarded should they in the pursuit of legitimate commercial enterprises transgress the regulations of a lawless independent organization such as the Canton strike pickets. While in no way desirous of encouraging Americans to engage in commercial enterprises which however lawful are likely to bring the American Government into opposition with Chinese organizations, unofficial or otherwise, I am strongly of the opinion that American citizens so engaged should be protected without discrimination at this critical time in China.

3. In these circumstances I respectfully recommend for the Department’s renewed consideration the policy suggested in paragraph 4 of the Legation’s 374, September 4, 4 p.m.

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