Press Release Issued by the Department of State on February 4, 1938 73d

The American Government has decided to reduce the number of the American armed forces in North China by withdrawing the Fifteenth Infantry, now stationed at Tientsin, and transferring to Tientsin from Peiping two companies of the United States Marine Guard now stationed at Peiping, leaving at Peiping two companies of that Guard.

The stationing of American armed forces at Peiping and Tientsin dates from the year 1900. In that year the American Government [Page 449] and other principally interested governments found it necessary to send expeditionary forces to North China for the relief of the legations of the foreign powers besieged by “Boxers” and Chinese Imperial troops. The negotiations which followed the successful raising of the siege of the legations were concluded by the signing on September 7, 1901, of the so-called Boxer Protocol by the representatives of the interested powers, including the United States. In the Boxer Protocol it was recorded that the Chinese Government had granted to the interested powers the right to station at certain points forces for the maintenance of open communications between the capital (Peking) and the sea.

Since 1901 the American Government has, along with other interested governments, felt it desirable to continue the maintenance of a legation guard at Peiping. In January 1912 the American Government, in view of the development in China of an armed revolution which resulted in the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty and in consequence of various disorders which ensued, sent to Tientsin from Manila a detachment of the American Army for the protection of American lives. Since that time the American Government—as well as certain other governments—has maintained a small force at Tientsin.

The purpose of maintaining these detachments of American armed forces at Peiping and at Tientsin has been to contribute to the protection of American nationals (including the diplomatic personnel) and, in case of emergency calling for evacuation, to make available an armed escort. Their mission has been solely protective.

The American Government has long been committed to the principle of effecting the withdrawal of such forces whenever the situation so develops as to warrant the view that withdrawals can be effected without detriment to American interests and obligations in general.

The withdrawal of the Fifteenth Infantry, total personnel (officers and men) 808, will take place early in March.

The Marine Guard at Peiping has a total personnel of (officers and men) 527.

  1. Reprinted from Department of State, Press Releases, February 5, 1938 (vol. xviii, No. 436), p. 199.