793.94111/49: Telegram

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

620. Department’s September 6, 5 p.m. The only new element that has been injected into the situation dealt with in my 461, August 15, 1 p.m.11a is the present Japanese effort to cut Hong Kong off from the Chinese mainland. British reaction to this effort will be watched with interest here closely where it is well recognized that if Japan succeeds Hong Kong will become a dead port.

The putting into effect of the Neutrality Act would be resented by the leaders in the Chinese Government just as they resent the withholding of passports from aviation instructors and the action ascribed by them to the American Consulate General at Shanghai in persuading [Page 517]certain of the instructors already assigned to leave. See in this connection my 585, September 1, 9 p.m.12 This resentment will be communicated to the people in explanation of failure of Chinese armies to hold off Japanese armies. In this connection please read my 593, September 3, 1 p.m.,13 in which I attempted to lay before the Department my considered estimate of probable course of events.

It proves openly that the application of the Neutrality Act would react dangerously for Americans in China. Chinese attitude in this matter may seem unreasonable to one looking at the question from the outside but it is an attitude which exists and I believe that it cannot be changed.

Mrs. Chiang had Neutrality Act in mind when she used the words quoted in my 595 [585?]. Her same attitude was one of bitter resentment that the United States by withdrawing its merchantships and by refusing to permit aviation instructors to come to China seemed to be going out of its way to put obstacles in the path of China engaged in a life and death struggle, pointed out enemy already on Chinese soil. By contrast she pointed out that Italy and Germany known to be friendly to Japan were leaving their instructors to work undisturbed. The application of the Neutrality Act would be itself evidence to her and to those surrounding and supporting her husband that the United States was actively trying to disable China in its attempt at self-defense.

Johnson
  1. Not printed.
  2. Vol. iv, p. 523.
  3. See telegram of September 6, 10 a.m., p. 513.