893.00 Nanking/94

Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Grew)

The French Ambassador read to me a telegram from his Government setting forth the sanctions proposed at the meeting of admirals in Shanghai in case the reply of Eugene Chen to the foreign demands should be unsatisfactory. The telegram went on to say that the French Government, in case the principle of sanctions should be adopted, felt that nothing should be done to hamper Chiang Kai Shek in his efforts to maintain order and that the sanctions should be applied so far as practicable in Hankow rather than in Nanking. The French Government did not, however, in any case desire to take a [Page 201] lead in the determination of the question of sanctions, although it would be ready to follow any action unanimously agreed to by the five Powers. The French Government then instructed the Ambassador to ascertain the views of this Government as to (1) the recommendations of the admirals, (2) the reply of Eugene Chen, and (3) the nature of the answer that should be made to Eugene Chen’s note. I said to the Ambassador that as regards point (1) the American admiral had attended the meeting of the admirals in Shanghai that had been called at the initiative of the British admiral, but that he had no instructions to discuss sanctions and had merely reported the results of the meeting. The attitude of this Government is that we are not yet ready to consider the question of sanctions. As regards points (2) and (3), I said that the Secretary, who had returned to Washington this morning, was now studying Eugene Chen’s reply and had not yet come to a decision as to the nature of the answer which should be made to him. I said that our first reaction was that the note was not wholly unconciliatory as Chen had proposed an impartial investigation of the incidents at Nanking and had offered reparation and apology in case of substantiation. I said that we were still in serious doubts as to the wisdom of applying sanctions as we felt that such action would merely pour oil on the flames of the antiforeign sentiment in China and would render the situation more difficult than ever. There was also the question of American public opinion to be considered and we were convinced that the country at large would be wholly opposed to applying any sanctions whatever. I repeated nevertheless that we had not yet formulated our attitude towards Eugene Chen’s note nor had we yet planned the nature of our reply. I said to the Ambassador that in answering his Government’s telegram I thought it would be well to make this clear and that I would then inform him as soon as we were in a position to make some definite statement with regard to our attitude.

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J[oseph] C. G[rew]