493.11 Changsha/17

Memorandum by the Minister in China (Johnson)9

I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether anything had been done about the claims arising from damage to property in Chang-sha last summer.10 He expressed the view which he had given before, namely, that the Government was not liable for damage done by rebels.

I stated that in this case we felt that the Government had failed to protect foreign property as the Governor of Hunan had withdrawn his forces from the city without warning and had left Americans to the mercy of the invading forces which had systematically undertaken to destroy and loot American property.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs stated that the Government had gone into the question of responsibility of the Governor of Hunan in this matter at the time when his name was before the Executive Council for possible cashiering, that General Ho Chien and the military had satisfied the Government that a withdrawal of Government forces from the city was the only move that the military could undertake at the time in order to protect their forces and enable them to collect and retake the city.

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I stated that the American Government was receiving claims from American citizens and that this matter would have to be discussed and settled sooner or later.11

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in his despatch No. 881, March 18; received April 25.
  2. For previous instruction, see Department’s telegram No. 424, December 9, 1930, 5 p.m., Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. ii, p. 220.
  3. The Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs subsequently declined to reconsider the matter.