The Consul General at Shanghai ( Gauss ) to the Secretary of State
Shanghai , November 24, 1937—2 p.m.
[Received 10:45 p.m.]
[Received 10:45 p.m.]
1012. Your No. 570, November 22, 8 p.m.
- Please see my No. 1002, November 22, 7 p.m., and No. 1008, November 23, 8 p.m. Anti-Japanese activities complained of apparently have been the Kuomintang and patriotic and propaganda organizations, radical Chinese press, posters, radio broadcasting, et cetera, which the police of the Settlement and Concession have been forbidding or suppressing for some days in a manner which in my opinion leaves no ground for reasonable complaint at this time. The municipal authorities are doing their utmost in this direction. The Municipal Council of the Settlement is in a difficult position. The Council includes Japanese and Chinese members. The burden of the present situation falls largely on the American and British members and the department executives. Secretary General tells me he advised strongly against proposal to march Japanese troops through the Settlement. The Council has made no official request to the interested Consuls General to make representations but such Consuls have been informed. As to the French Concession, the French Consul General stated he is unable to allow the passage of armed troops. He has not disclosed whether attempts to pass will be resisted by force.
- As to the legal position, it seems to me that in view of the careful avoidance by both sides and by third powers of recognition of a state of war, the forces now in occupation of the Shanghai area are not entitled to claim the rights of a belligerent army of occupation in respect of the Settlement and Concession which have long had a special status related to extraterritoriality and the treaties and which by long usage have been recognized as neutral areas. The areas protected by the “neutral” foreign forces are areas which have been set aside in the past by mutual agreement in defense plans. These areas have been guarded and protected by the foreign forces since the Japanese took up defense positions in the sector originally assigned them under the same defense plans which sector they have later used as a base for their military operations. It does not seem unreasonable, however, to assent to the proposition that as the Japanese are now in military occupation of the area around Shanghai, Chinese activities within the [Page 718] foreign protected area should be discontinued except by agreement and that all propaganda and activities calculated to cause disorders or to prejudice the interests of the Japanese military forces should be forbidden. On the other hand, Government organizations furnishing public services such as the posts, cables, telegraphs, and wireless should not be unreasonably interfered with or restricted.
- On the question of the movement of Japanese troops into areas south of the Creek, I direct attention to the last sentence of section 3, part 2 of the Shanghai defense plan which provides that any commander desiring to arrange special protection for his nationals in a sector other than his own shall first obtain the concurrence of the sector commander concerned. Under existing conditions such consent might reasonably be withheld or postponed on the ground that the introduction of the troops concerned into a thickly populated area at this time would actually constitute a grave danger to peace and order in the sector where there are foreign interests to be recognized and protected other than those only of the forces seeking to enter and where all interests are already well protected by the police and the foreign forces.
- The United States Marine Corps detachment at the American owned electric power plant in the Japanese sector is permitted and provided for in the note under sector a, section 3, part 2 of the Shanghai defense plan.
- But leaving aside all legal arguments, I suppose that the rules of common sense, reason and respect for other foreign rights and interests should dictate that no effort be made to march or station Japanese troops in the areas south of the Creek at this time. We have carefully excluded Chinese armed forces from such areas and in addition would be an appropriate friendly gesture if the Japanese would abstain from seeking to enter the areas at the time. With the huge Chinese population heavily augmented by refugees forced to leave the countryside during hostilities and not yet permitted to return there, the problems of the authorities of these foreign areas are tremendous. No matter how earnestly and efficiently they may endeavor to prevent it, there would certainly be “incidents” likely to lead to most serious difficulties. I cannot subscribe to the theory that the marching or stationing of Japanese troops in the areas would subdue the Chinese population and be beneficial. The proposed action would seriously prejudice the safety of foreign residents. This problem should not be added to the already overwhelming responsibility of the authorities of the foreign areas to place those areas in a state of reasonably complete “neutrality” during the conflict.
Sent to the Department. Repeated to Tokyo.