The Consul General at Hankow (
) to the Minister in China (
, February 17, 1930.
L. No. 916
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram
of January 29, 12 noon,70 reporting that the S. S. Ifung of the Yangtze Rapid Steamship Company was
boarded by about forty officers and men of the Chinese National Army at
Shasi, and to enclose herewith, as of possible interest, a copy of a
letter addressed by Mr. Lansing Hoyt, President of the Yangtze Rapid
Steamship Company, under date of February 5, 1930, to Rear Admiral T. T.
Craven, United States Navy, on the subject. Mr. Hoyt’s letter explains
In view of the attacks by rifle fire on American vessels plying the
Yangtze River between Hankow and Ichang, armed guards are now [Page 90] being supplied by the American naval
authorities for American ships traversing the stretch of the river
between the two points named. I am informed that this measure, which is
designed to prevent further attacks on American vessels in the middle
river, and to discourage, if not actually to prevent, the transportation
of Chinese soldiers in uniform on American vessels, is temporary and
will be withdrawn as soon as conditions warrant such action.
I have [etc.]
The President of the Yangtze Rapid Steamship
) to the Commander of the
United States Yangtze Patrol (
Rear Admiral Craven
Chinese Nationalist General &
Staff Aboard “Ifung”
Dear Sir: Your report on the above subject
is substantially correct. These unarmed soldiers in uniform did
travel on our M/V Ifung from Ichang and Shasi
to Hankow. We did not seek their patronage of our Line, nor have we
ever done so …
In my opinion our Captain acted very tactfully in this matter. This
General was wearing the uniform of a friendly recognized Power. He
had been no doubt treated with respect by your Naval officers when
on shore at Ichang. Because this Chinese General came aboard an
American vessel without arms and travelled in a peaceful manner
aboard our vessel, you can hardly expect an American merchant
captain to treat him with less courtesy than would an American Naval
officer have treated him at his Yamen in Ichang.
The policy you refer to about carrying military forces of China was
doubtless promulgated when the Yangtsze River was the scene of many
inter Provincial battles between unrecognized Tuchuns. I believe it
should apply in cases where Chinese troops commandeer a vessel and
bring disgrace on the American flag. That is why I have always been
so insistent on “Armed Naval Guards” for American ships. The Ifung has never enjoyed the protection of an
Armed Guard. On August 29 last, Captain Bakeman of the Ifung asked for instructions from Lt.
Commander Truesdell at Ichang about the presence of uniformed but
unarmed Chinese soldiers aboard. This Naval officer replied that
“There are no instructions concerning the carrying of unarmed
We can not put high Nationalist unarmed officers off our ships. It
would be folly to do this now that we have recognized their
Government. There are no Chinese ships on the Middle River now, and
Nationalist soldiers receive consideration if they ‘travel on
British and Japanese steamers in a peaceful manner.
Awaiting your further comments upon a policy that if strictly
enforced, would only stir up useless friction and make it harder for
you to protect American shipping out here.