893.00/8164: Telegram

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

96. For the Secretary, Under Secretary and Chief of Far Eastern Affairs. Your telegram number 31, January 28, 3 p.m.

With all possible earnestness I beg you to reconsider the proposed message to factional leaders with regard to the neutralization of Shanghai. I am certain that such proposals would not accomplish their purpose and that any assurances given in reply would be merely illusory as stated in my 93, January 29, noon; and that the effect of such an appeal to the Chinese would be to encourage in them an aggressive mood which would measurably increase the danger to the lives and property of our citizens in Shanghai and elsewhere.
The proposed message appeals to the Chinese to do three things: First, to exclude the International Settlement from the area of conflict; second, to abstain from entering it by force; and third, to station no military force in its immediate vicinity. The first and second are matters of right and to present them to the Chinese as though they were new proposals prompted merely by motives of expediency primarily in the interest of foreigners, would constitute a veritable challenge to the Nationalists to assert a right to do what we are supplicating them not to do. The third point could not be urged without either insisting on the evacuation of the Shanghai area by the Northerners now in control or demanding that the Southerners take no military actions against them—either of which alternatives would be an intervention in Chinese factional strife which would hopelessly compromise our position.
As regards the foreign attitude in the matter, the proposal invites all interested parties to maintain the neutrality of [the] Settlement. This implies that they are not doing so or will not do so and thereby puts us foreigners in the wrong without any justification in fact. It further declares a willingness on our part to negotiate, it does not appear with whom, regarding first, protection; second, administration of the Settlement; and third, control. I am at a loss to understand what changes we could offer in regard to the necessities [Page 65] of the protection of our nationals in Shanghai. As to the second and third points, I feel strongly that for the United States to make an offer of fundamental changes in the status of the International Settlement without previous consultation and understanding with the other nationalists [nations?] jointly responsible with us would be not only an act of bad faith towards them but an incitement to the Cantonese faction to force the issue.
I firmly believe that the making of the proposed communication would not only aggravate the danger to our nationals but would gravely impede and embarrass such other nationalities as might have to assume the burden of protecting the lives and interests of our people along with their own.
I, therefore, most respectfully urge that no further action be taken on the proposed communications.