793.94111/58a: Telegram

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

239. 1. The President yesterday issued a statement20 forbidding merchant vessels owned by the United States Government to transport to China or Japan any arms, ammunition or implements of war listed in the President’s proclamation of May 1, 1937,21 and stating that other merchant vessels flying the American flag which attempted such carriage would do so at their own risk.

2. In a conversation this morning, the Chinese Ambassador stated: [Here follows summary of all but last two paragraphs of memorandum printed supra.]

3. I ask that, as opportunity occurs, you present this matter to your Chinese contacts in the light of these considerations. You might in addition point out that, for the present at least, the only thing forbidden or discouraged by this action is the carrying of the commodities [Page 533] specified to Japan and to China by American ships. You might suggest that, as the situation develops and as steps are taken progressively by the American Government for the carrying out of its general policy of peace, effects adverse to one or the other of the conflicting countries which may flow from some steps will in all probability be offset by effects favorable which will flow from other steps. You should stress to your hearers that in the past this country has done deliberately many things with the purpose of being helpful to China and that the Chinese should not forget those things simply because some action which we take primarily in pursuance of our general peace policy happens by virtue of its withholding something to be disappointing to China. You should emphasize the long swing and the general trend of policy and action in comparison with the short swing and a particular action at a particular moment.