The Counselor of Embassy in China (Peck) to the Director of the Department of European and American Affairs, Chinese Foreign Office (Liu)22

Dear Dr. Liu: The American Presbyterian Mission maintains two hospitals and two or three schools in the south suburb of Hwaiyuan, Anhwei Province, outside the city wall. These institutions have been there for many years.

The members of the Mission have reported to the Embassy that they are considerably alarmed by the fact that the military forces of the National Government have converted three unused temples situated in immediate proximity to the hospitals and schools, as places for the storing of ammunition. It is reported there that these ware-house[s] [Page 563] contain large quantities of hand grenades, rifle and artillery ammunition. They are carefully guarded day and night. Proclamations have been posted prohibiting any person from approaching these ammunition warehouses closer than a distance of one Chinese li. The members of the American Presbyterian Mission feel that there is a constant danger of explosion and that the presence of this ammunition is a serious danger to the property of the Mission and to the lives of all the people on the Mission premises, including American citizens, the Chinese patients in the hospitals and the Chinese students in the schools. They have requested that the American Embassy report their anxiety to the appropriate authorities of the Chinese Government and inquire whether it will not be possible to remove the ammunition from the south suburb of Hwaiyuan, and especially from the vicinity of the Mission property, to some place where its presence will not endanger life.

I think you will recall that on one occasion ammunition stored in a warehouse situated just outside of Nanking, near the Hansimen, exploded, and likewise ammunition stored in a warehouse in the city of Sian, Shensi. It is a well-known fact that ammunition kept in storage is capable of explosion without any outside cause, but owing merely to chemical decomposition in the ammunition itself.

I shall be grateful if you will be so kind as to bring the state of affairs at Hwaiyuan to the attention of the appropriate authorities and ascertain whether something cannot be done to remedy it.

Yours very sincerely,

Willys R. Peck
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in China in his covering despatch No. 516, June 24; received July 26.