893.00/8631: Telegram

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


390. Legation’s telegrams of April 7, number 366, 8 a.m., and April 8, number 377, 9 a.m.

The sector held formally [formerly?] by the Russian Legation guard has constituted hiatus in the defense system of the Legation quarter since the reoccupation of the Russian property by the Soviet. As a result of the Chinese raid upon Russian properties on April 6th it is disclosed that not only is this sector undefended but it is occupied by a group that is actively antagonistic to the foreign interests for which the quarter was designed by the Boxer protocol45 to be a defensible base.
A recommendation to the diplomatic representatives of the protocol powers was formulated at a meeting yesterday by the commandants of the five Legation guards, to the effect that the portion of the former Russian Legation which formed a part of the quarter’s system of defense should be turned over to those who are responsible for defense of the Legation quarter, in order that the proper defense thereof might be provided for in the same manner as was done in the cases of the German, Austrian and Dutch defense sectors upon the withdrawal of their respective guards.
Yesterday evening the interested Ministers considered this recommendation and all were in full agreement in regard to the urgent military necessity of guarding the former Russian sector, although it was felt by the British Minister, the Italian Chargé d’Affaires, and me that we must request instructions in this connection. All rights pursuant to the Boxer protocol having now been professedly renounced by the Soviets, occupation of the former Russian guard property is anomalous, and the interested Ministers felt that no more of it should be occupied than is actually necessary for the purpose of defending the quarter, the remainder of the property being left free for the Russians to use.
A discussion has been fixed for April 12th. For the purpose of this discussion it is earnestly requested that you approve my joining, in accordance with the following formula, in giving authorization for action upon the recommendation of the guard commandants:

“It is a general principle that the defense wall of the diplomatic quarter must, in case of emergency, be manned by the available forces of the several Legation guards. In accordance with this principle, it should be arranged that troops belonging to the other guards will [Page 319] in the future occupy that portion of the wall formerly assigned to the Russian Legation guard.”

The occupation of this property by the international guards should, it is obviously desirable, be achieved by arrangement with the Chinese who remain in possession, rather than by seizure (in the case either of occupation prior to or during an actual attack upon the quarter). In view of this desirability, until such time as this question is decided, the Senior Minister is authorizing the Chinese, day by day, to enter the quarter for further investigation.