Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)

Conversation: The Secretary of State;
The Chinese Ambassador, Dr. C. T. Wang.
Present: Mr. Hornbeck.

The Chinese Ambassador called on the Secretary at his own request at 11:30 this morning.

[Page 262]

The Secretary opened the conversation with a reference to the deplorable situation at Shanghai. He said that we had been doing everything possible by way of cautioning both sides against the arising there of such a situation. We had urged upon both sides that they should not come into conflict and that in particular they should not fight at and around Shanghai. The Ambassador then made statements attributing the responsibility to the Japanese. He said that the Chinese were simply defending what was their own. He said that the Chinese did not want a fight and that they had offered to withdraw their forces if the Japanese would withdraw theirs. He referred to the conversation in the early stages of the north China situation when we had asked him whether the Chinese had offered a cessation of hostilities and a common withdrawal of troops from the region of the Marco Polo Bridge. He said that the Chinese had actually begun a withdrawal, in part, but that the Japanese had continued and increased their attack. The Secretary asked whether the Chinese had made such an offer at Shanghai. Dr. Wang said that they had done so and that their offer stood good. He said that he would be glad to telegraph his Government suggesting such an offer now. He said that the Japanese had placed their forces at Shanghai in such a way that the operations there had resulted in most regrettable destruction of life. The Secretary said that so far as he was aware we had not received any very definite indication of the Chinese Government’s regret. The Ambassador said that he himself greatly regretted the matter and that he knew that his Government did; but, upon being questioned, he said that he had received no instructions on the subject. He went on to say that a great many Chinese had been killed and at least one foreigner, who was a very dear friend of his (Dr. Rawlinson52), had been killed. He did not know how many of his personal friends among the Chinese may have been killed. The Ambassador asked whether there was any information that we could give him. The Secretary replied that he had asked certain questions because we had not information on the points involved and that that was why he had asked the questions. The Ambassador said that he understood that the Secretary had conferred with the President yesterday. He wondered whether there was anything that the Secretary could tell him about measures considered. The Secretary then stated that we are taking steps toward providing a fund of $500,000 on which to draw in connection with evacuations; the Secretary at once explained that he did not mean a general evacuation but he meant everything relating to the moving out of those of our people who go and whatever emergency needs may arise. The Ambassador said that he feared that there might be an epidemic; there might be interference with the [Page 263] water supply; the weather is bad, hot; and there might be an interference with the electric light plant (he mentioned its American ownership). The Secretary stated that the whole situation is most distressing. He said that he was going to talk with the President again before his press conference53 and that after the press conference, if there is anything to be told the Ambassador, he would see to it that the Ambassador is informed. The Ambassador echoed the Secretary’s statement that the situation was most distressing and mentioned the fact that his own family, with the exception of his two daughters who are here, are in Shanghai.

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Frank J. Rawlinson, American (Protestant) missionary, editor, and author.
  2. See press release issued by the Department of State, August 17, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 349.