793.94/356: Telegram

The Consul at Tsingtao ( Sokobin ) to the Secretary of State

The state of excitement among Chinese officials and residents has greatly increased today due to a rumor of an alleged presentation of an ultimatum to the local municipal government by the Japanese to surrender the city within 24 hours. Whatever the cause may be, the extraordinary activity which has taken place today points to a belief among the high Chinese authorities that events are impending which will require them to leave Tsingtao at very short notice. The railway stations within the city, particularly those in the cotton mill district, are very heavily guarded and Chinese residents in the vicinity of the mills have been instructed by the municipal authorities to remove themselves forthwith.

Also there were dismissed from municipal employment today the greater part of the few remaining subordinate officials and employees.

It appears to this Consulate that the Chinese authorities are simply losing their nerve.

This morning the Mayor informed the British and French Consuls who had been instructed by their Ambassadors to make representations to the Mayor in regard to the sparing of destruction of property that first any action he would undertake would be solely in accordance with instructions of the Central Government and without regard to his personal inclinations. Furthermore he could assure the Consuls that every measure would be taken to avoid damage to foreign possessions, that is American and European lives and property. Also that the foreign consuls could rest assured that no action in regard to the public utilities was contemplated. The Mayor also gave assurances that the foreign residential district would not be affected.

Sent to the Department, Hankow, Peiping.