893.00/8164: Telegram

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


35. Your number 96, January 30, noon.

It is necessary for you to understand that American sentiment is very strongly opposed to military action in China by this Government except for protecting American life and property. No sentiment exists here that would support any military action on the part of this Government for the object of maintaining present status and integrity of the International Settlement at Shanghai.
This Government does not intend to withdraw from Chinese waters its naval forces as long as their presence is required for the protection of American life. If the landing of forces becomes necessary for the protection of American citizens in the International Settlement at Shanghai from attack by armed Chinese soldiers or by mobs, there would be general approval of such action in this matter if it can be demonstrated that every effort to protect American citizens by peaceful measures had been exhausted by this Government beforehand.
It is well known here that this very thing is being done by the British Government in the negotiations now being conducted at Hankow in which it is understood considerable concessions by the British Government are involved in the matter of administration of the residential concessions held by the British in China. As one of the powers responsible for the status possessed by the International Settlement at Shanghai, the United States cannot afford to be less [Page 66] ready in the matter of making concessions where responsibility for making them rests upon it.
In Cabinet discussion of this it was agreed that such an effort should be made as was outlined by the Department in its telegram 31, January 28, 3 p.m. I discussed this with the British Ambassador in Washington. He approved, saying his Majesty’s Government already was holding discussions at Hankow on the question of keeping the International Settlement at Shanghai clear of the conflict. I was also told by the Japanese Ambassador that the proposal in his opinion was a good one.
Careful consideration has been given to the comments which you have made at the Department’s invitation. In a desire to meet them, amendments to the proposed communication have been made as follows:
In the address, substitute “Chiang Kai-Shek through Eugene Chen” for “Eugene Ch’en.”
Instead of the passage beginning with the words “The American Government in submitting” and concluding with “its control”, write: “In recalling these facts to the Chinese military commanders, the American Government is confident that they will lend their sincere support to the proposal now made—that the International Settlement at Shanghai be excluded from the area of armed conflict so that American citizens and other foreigners may receive adequate protection. The American Government will be ready for its part to become a party to friendly and orderly negotiations properly instituted and conducted regarding the future status of the Settlement.”59

If, after you have considered the above, you have further comments please communicate them by telegraph immediately.

  1. Quotation not paraphrased.