The Secretary of State to the Chargé in China (Mayer)
195. Your 401, September 14, 6 p.m. The only information which the Department has regarding the activities of Banbury is contained in your 374 of September 4, 4 p.m. From that information Department understands that Banbury, an American citizen, is part owner in a motor vessel which is engaged in the business of transporting Chinese and other passengers from the shore to Hongkong steamers of British nationality anchored in stream off Canton. It is the understanding of the Department that this is not a normal business at Canton in which Americans or other nationals ordinarily engage, but that it is incident to a conflict between local Chinese and British steamship companies. Banbury and others engaged in similar [Page 730] business therefore appear in this instance to the Department to be serving a British interest, no essential American interest being involved. American citizens desiring to avail themselves of British passenger facilities to Hongkong should be protected in the normal means of accomplishing their purpose but should be discouraged from taking the risk of abnormal means of boarding British ships when such means involve conflict with local Chinese of whatever character. As a practical means of overcoming difficulty mentioned by Commander-in-Chief Department suggests that Commander of the South China Patrol arrange to furnish Navy transportation to any American citizen desiring to board Hongkong steamer at Canton. Such facilities if offered should be limited entirely to American citizens and their personal baggage.