The Consul General at Hong Kong (Southard) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 16—9:30 a.m.]
Following from Saigon.
“February 13, 4 p.m. Local press editorials of yesterday emphasize increasing uneasiness of the French here due to the occupation of Hainan and possible threat to the commerce of French Indo-China and Kwangchow. Occupation described as step toward another forced Munich Agreement14 to the detriment of French prestige and interests in the Orient. Concerning reported instructions received by the Japanese Navy to refrain from all action which might strain French-Japanese relations, high Government officer stated to me today Japanese Government had assured French Ambassador [at] Tokyo last year that Hainan would not be occupied. Well informed opinions here are that strategic advantage gained by the Japanese might have been obviated had France made timely public declaration that such would not be tolerated when it became evident following Japanese [Page 109] attacks on Yunnanfu, Nanning and Pakhoi that objective of Japanese military authorities was to close commercial routes to Kwangsi and Yunnan. High Government officers emphasize necessity of material moral support of France and England by the United States to obviate further encroachment by Japan pending solution of conflict. Governor General of Straits Settlements flew from Saigon to Hue by French military airplane February 10 to confer with the Governor General of French Indo-China. Admiral in command French war ships in the Orient now at Saigon. Information contained in the telegram from the Consul at Yunnanfu to the Department January 23, 6 p.m.,15 still unconfirmed. Press of yesterday reported Wang Ching-wei16 at Dalat. Governor of Cochin-China could not confirm the report today.”
Saigon requests that the Department furnish a confidential code which is considered necessary there. Relaying of this message has been delayed because no United States naval vessel is now in Hong Kong.
Repeated to Chungking.