893.00 Nanking/21: Telegram

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


318. 1. I have just received Department’s telegram No. 111 of March 31. It will be seen from my telegram No. 317 today that the other four interested powers are fully prepared immediately to proceed with the demands recommended by us for the settlement of the Nanking incident, but that for the time being action is withheld pending your decision as to the attitude of the American Government. Thus full responsibility for the disastrous results which [Page 174] will follow delay or failure in exacting the minimum of satisfaction contemplated for the outrages at Nanking will fall on the American Government. In the situation confronting us in China I beg you to realize that the personal danger to American citizens and other foreigners throughout the country is greatly and definitely increased by every day of delay in dealing effectively with the Nanking affair. I do not see any necessity for awaiting the comments of Admiral Williams upon purely political matters regarding which I think the Department has been adequately informed by me. I earnestly request, therefore, immediate instructions as to the course you plan to follow.

2. Obviously we must be prepared if necessary to enforce compliance if we make any demands for apology and reparation. Further outrages against Americans would be invited by a merely formal demand which we allow the Nationalists to ignore. As suggested in Legation’s telegram 275 of March 29, 10 a.m., paragraph 11, the only alternatives are to participate promptly and wholeheartedly in joint action with the other interested powers or frankly to pursue an independent course. The latter alternative would result in either making us responsible for paralyzing the action now proposed by the other interested Governments or in allowing the common burden to be carried by those powers which have become convinced of the fact that in reality there exists an unacknowledged state of war against us being waged by the element now in control of the political thought of China.

2. [3.] The proposed plan of action regarding the Nanking affair is not punitive or retaliatory and does not contemplate intervention. We are for our part following a policy of yielding to circumstances and evacuating our citizens from Kuomintang territory, it being practically certain that we will have to do likewise in the North soon. To enable this evacuation to be carried out with safety it is absolutely necessary that we should not hesitate in meeting the situation created by the Nanking outrages. With all respect, the evidence of any hesitation on the part of our Government in meeting the necessities of the situation created by the Nanking affair fills me with consternation.