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

No. 373

Sir: The Department refers to despatch L. No. 1091, of November 20, 1930, from the American Consul General at Hankow to the Legation, and the enclosures thereto, consisting of letters dated November 14 and November 18, 1930, from the Director of the Public Safety Bureau at Hankow to the American Consul General.2 In these letters the Director requests that missionaries and others be notified, because of unsettled conditions in Honan, to refrain from travel in that province for the time being.

Consular officers in China will continue to advise American citizens to avoid residence or travel in areas in the interior where they cannot be afforded protection or from which they cannot be evacuated in case of necessity with safety and expedition. But the frequency with which letters such as that enclosed with the despatch from the American Consul General at Hankow have been received by American consular officers in China appears to render it desirable that the responsible Chinese authorities be reminded afresh that they cannot absolve themselves by such notices of the responsibility placed upon them by existing treaties for the protection of American citizens in China.

The Department desires, therefore, that the Legation instruct American consular officers in China that when they receive letters such as those described in the first paragraph of this despatch, they reply thereto in the sense that while they wish by all proper means to cooperate with the Chinese authorities in the prevention of untoward incidents and will continue to advise American citizens not to reside in unsafe areas, consular officers are constrained to invite attention to the responsibility placed by existing treaties upon the Chinese Government for the protection of American citizens in China, and to the fact that notification to consular officers that a given area is unsafe for residence or travel does not serve to remove such responsibility.

In this connection, reference is made to the Department’s instructions No. 420 of June 15, 19233 and No. 272 of October 7, 1930,4 dealing [Page 934] with the subject of regions declared by the Chinese authorities to be unsafe.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
W. R. Castle, Jr.