393.1164 Yenching University/26: Telegram

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

134. Your 329 [379], August 6, 5 p.m. The Department realizes that the question of the advisability of the display of the American flag over Yenching University is a difficult one. There is no statute of the United States which forbids display of the American flag over American-owned property or by American citizens over the residences in which they live. American diplomatic and consular officers therefore can only issue advice designed to discourage the display of the American flag in inappropriate cases, such as where it is displayed to protect a purely Chinese interest, or where the display would, in the opinion of the Embassy, add to rather than lessen the danger to American residents or American property.

The Department’s instruction No. 871 of May 23, 1928, related essentially to the operation of educational institutions which, although American owned, have registered with the Chinese Government for administrative purposes. The Department would not look with favor upon the display of the American flag by such institutions for the sole purpose of contesting Chinese governmental educational regulations relating to the general operation of the school, but we of course wish to do what we appropriately can toward having the American property interests in the school respected and toward safeguarding against spoliation of those property interests. Inasmuch as the present desire of Leighton Stuart to display the American flag over Yenching University seems definitely to be for the purpose of protecting American occupants and preventing spoliation of the physical property of the school, which property appears to be wholly or in large part American owned, the Department is of the opinion that display of the flag for that purpose over property which is in fact American owned or occupied by American citizens would be appropriate.

If there are at the present time Chinese students in residence at the University and if the Embassy is of the opinion that there is danger that the Japanese military may, because of the presence of these students, take repressive measures against the institution which would endanger American life or property, the Department suggests that the [Page 568] Embassy explain this danger to Stuart and advise him to ask Chinese students at the University to leave until the present situation becomes quiet.