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

No. 1264

Sir: I have the honor to refer to despatch No. 69 of May 17, 1937, from the Consulate General at Canton to the Embassy at Peiping (copies of which were sent directly to the Department)21 in regard [Page 562] to the request of the representative of the Presbyterian Mission at Yeungkong, Kwangtung, that a protest be lodged by the Consulate General against the massacre of lepers in a leper settlement at Yeungkong, and to enclose a copy of the Embassy’s instruction of today’s date to the Consulate General at Canton on the subject.21a

As pointed out in the above mentioned instruction, the mission’s representative based his request that a protest be filed on the contention that the massacre constituted interference with the mission’s medical work.

From the information at hand it appears that the leper settlement was not established by the mission but by the local authorities. The mission apparently maintained a chapel in the settlement and a hut from which medical supplies were distributed. These buildings and their contents are reported to have been looted following the massacre. The mission hospital located a mile and a half away was not involved. The Embassy instructed the Consulate General that in the circumstances the Embassy did not consider that sufficient legal grounds existed for the filing of a protest by the Consulate General against the massacre, but informed it that the filing of a claim for losses suffered by the mission on account of the looting would appear to be in order. Local political complications developed as soon as word of the massacre leaked out, which is another reason why a protest by the Consulate General against the massacre would appear undesirable at this time, unless bona fide American interests could be established.

Respectfully yours,

Nelson Trusler Johnson
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