The Consul General at Hankow ( Lockhart ) to the Minister in China ( Johnson )69

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 itself.

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actually to prevent, the transportation of Chinese soldiers in uniform on American vessels, is temporary and will be withdrawn as soon as conditions warrant such action.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.]

F. P. Lockhart

The President of the Yangtze Rapid Steamship Company ( Hoyt ) 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 soldiers”.

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.

[Page 91]

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.

Yours faithfully,

Lansing Hoyt
, President
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul General at Hankow in his despatch No. 1333, February 17, 1930; received March 28.
  2. See telegram No. 100, January 31, 7 p.m., from the Chargé in China, p. 85.