The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 21—11:20 a.m.]
269. Vice Minister Liu called this evening under instructions from Lo Wen-kan to say that Lo had received word from Admiral Shen at Tsingtau that four Japanese cruisers had appeared off Taku and that the Japanese battleship Hirada (Commander Chita) had left Port Arthur for Taku. Lo stated that Commander Chita had stated that if China does not stop despatching troops toward Jehol there would be some action at Tientsin and Peiping. Vice Minister Liu did not know to whom Commander Chita had made above statement. Lo instructed Liu to say to me that China could not halt efforts to resist attack on Jehol and at same time China would be obliged to resist any attacks directed at Peiping or Tientsin. He pointed out that while this was at the present time only a threat—it might result in action later and Dr. Lo had directed him to express the hope that interested friendly governments would dissuade Japan from action which could not but endanger interests of friendly powers. Liu stated he communicated above to Lampson.
I promised Vice Minister Liu that I would communicate his message to you.
All has been quiet here but this evening rumors have been circulating, some inspired by the Japanese Legation, that Japanese may be intending some action. Tientsin reports all quiet there.