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

No. 360

Sir: I have the honor to enclose a copy of a letter received under date of February 19, 1937, from Mr. P. R. Josselyn, American Consul General at Hankow.15 In this letter Mr. Josselyn consults me in regard to the attitude to be taken by American consular officers in China when asked for advice by American missionaries wishing to proceed to interior regions which are, or may become, areas of disturbance. Mr. Josselyn points to the indisputable fact that it is often impossible, at a great distance, for the consular officer to ascertain beyond a doubt whether it will be safe for an American citizen to take up, or to continue, [Page 558] his residence in any particular locality and he suggests that while the consular officer should provide any given missionary organization with all the information bearing on the subject which he may be able to obtain, the missionary organization itself should shoulder responsibility for its decision. Mr. Josselyn and, in his absence, Mr. Jarvis,16 have been indefatigable during recent months in looking to the welfare of American citizens scattered through the extensive district of the Hankow Consulate General. There can be no question, therefore, of any desire on the part of Mr. Josselyn to evade any part of his duty. His letter to me is based upon the legitimate question whether a missionary organization with representatives and Chinese correspondents in a given region is not in a better position than an American consular officer to determine whether it is advisable for its missionaries to travel or reside in any given locality.

I feel that Mr. Josselyn’s letter deserves a considered reply and this office has prepared a draft of such a reply. A copy is enclosed.17 Before sending this reply to Mr. Josselyn, however, I have the honor to ask that the Department scrutinize it, in order that I may be sure that it is in line with the Department’s general policies, even though it may be colored somewhat by conditions peculiar to China. The whole question of the protection to be accorded by the American Government to American citizens in disturbed areas abroad is now receiving so much attention that great care would appear to be advisable in approaching it from any angle.

If the Department sees no reason to alter the enclosed draft, I have the honor to request that I be so advised by naval radio. The matters dealt with are requiring the almost daily attention of the Embassy and the consular offices in China.

Respectfully yours,

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Not printed.
  2. Robert Y. Jarvis, Consul at Hankow.
  3. For revised reply, see p. 559.