793.94/9519: Telegram

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

474. My 470, August 19, 5 p.m.79

1. Please inform Commander-in-Chief I have communicated his 060619 to Minister of Foreign Affairs.80 I now have following reply from him to my letter of yesterday’s date: [Page 433]

“Referring to the note of today’s date of His Excellency the American Ambassador, regarding the question of the disposition of American war vessels in Shanghai, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has the honor to observe that China is now engaged in a life and death struggle with Japan through the latter’s repeated aggressive action and that the position taken by His Excellency conduces to the belief that Japanese war ships are allowed to take advantage of their proximity to other foreign warships to attack Chinese troops and avoid being attacked.

The Chinese Government still maintains much to its regret that under the present extraordinary circumstances it is necessary for the warships and other ships of friendly powers to leave the danger zone for their own sake, and should not in any way permit their presence to interfere with the legitimate action of the Chinese defensive forces. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has to reiterate that, while the Chinese forces will avoid as far as possible endangering the safety of the vessels of friendly powers, the Chinese Government will not hold itself responsible for any damage caused to them as a result of the noncompliance with the request of the Chinese military authorities.”

2. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs explained to me that Chinese Government has no intention to attack ships of friendly powers but hopes that you will do everything possible to remain away from Japanese warships which will be object of attack. I can do no more here. I believe Chinese are desperate and will attack Japanese ships at whatever cost.

Repeated to Department, sent to Shanghai.

  1. Not printed.
  2. See Admiral Yarnell’s telegram of August 17, 10 p.m., p. 431.