793.94/6084: Telegram

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

273. My March 21, 9 p.m., third sentence. Vice Minister Liu now informs me that several days ago Admiral Shen of the Chinese Navy at Tsingtau, hearing that Japanese warships were concentrating at Taku, asked Tanaka, Commander of Japanese naval forces at Tsingtau, to transmit to Commander Chita of the Hirada a request that “in order that misunderstanding might be avoided” Japanese warships should not enter the Peiho. Tanaka transmitted message to Chita who radioed reply to the effect that he personally would like to see the status quo maintained at Tientsin and Taku but that unless [Page 246] China desists from concentrating troops along Jehol frontier then it might not be possible to avoid some Japanese action at Tientsin and Taku.

According to latest reports received by Liu’s office the battleship Hirada and four cruisers are now lying off Taku. Liu calls attention to the fact that Chita referred to Tientsin and Taku as possible scenes of action rather than Tientsin and Peiping as erroneously reported by Liu yesterday.

2. I report the above as communicated but wish to add that insofar as I can learn personally by conversation with local Chinese authorities (outside of Vice Minister Liu who makes the above statement by direction of Nanking) I can see nothing in the present situation that convinces me that either side desires to continue military activities. As I stated the other day I believe military action will continue at a standstill for the time being. Local shifting of Chinese forces indicates a process of gradual liquidation of the positions held by forces loyal to Chang Hsueh-liang and a concentration of forces more amenable to the control of the Government and Chiang Kai-shek.

Repeated to Tokyo.

  1. Telegram in two sections.