793.94/13848: Telegram

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

440. With reference to Tokyo’s 577, September 5, 3 p.m., and Hankow’s September 7, 3 p.m.,89 and Shanghai’s September 8, 4 p.m., which is being separately repeated to the Department in my 439, September 9, 11 a.m. The erection of defence works in the two ex-concessions at Hankow which are under Chinese jurisdiction but which are included in the area described in the Embassy’s 33, December 13, 4 p.m., 1937,90 and the statement of the Wuhan garrison commander that these defences are being erected under orders of a higher military authority when he was approached by the senior Consul at Hankow raises the question whether I should, either as senior Ambassador or as American Ambassador with nationals residing within the two ex-concessions mentioned, protest to the higher authorities in the matter. I am diffident about approaching the Chinese authorities in this matter as it would be impossible for me to offer any guarantee whatever to the Chinese authorities as to the fate which may be meted out to Chinese citizens found within those areas by the Japanese. Similar defensive works apparently were erected within the area where foreigners were living in Kiukiang and yet it is apparent that the Japanese forces in taking Kiukiang were careful of foreign property in that area. I have hitherto taken the stand that I could not be responsible for more than informing Japanese of the location of American property and the presence of American nationals and hold them responsible for their protection. I am not disposed to go to the Chinese authorities about this matter and protest against steps which they are apparently taking for the protection of their own lives for I can offer no substitute. Unless the Department desires otherwise I propose to take no action with the Chinese, relying upon what we have already said to the Japanese about the location of American properties in those areas for their protection.

Shanghai please repeat to Tokyo, Hankow, Shanghai [sic].

  1. Telegram of September 7 not printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. iv, p. 401.