The Chargé in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 26—7:45 a.m.]
289. Shanghai’s 308, April 23, 10 a.m. The British Ambassador inquired of me April 24 what attitude the Embassy was taking toward the Japanese demand that Chinese newspapers published in the International Settlement under foreign registration be restrained from publishing “anti-Japanese” material. He said that while there is a [Page 31] King’s order forbidding British registered Chinese language papers from publishing matter calculated to disturb the peace, which order could be invoked in this case, he had directed that the British authorities if they applied it should construe it broadly, that is, should not bear down too hard on the Chinese. I observed that the Ambassador’s views would certainly interest the Department and I would report them.
I added that the American Consul General was without administrative authority to control newspapers although he might refrain from assisting them when in difficulties, but that since the matter was being handled in direct consultation with the Department I was unable to say just what position he would take. I remarked that the problem primarily affected the Municipal Council and the Ambassador said the British members came to him for guidance.
In regard to the flag issue the Ambassador said that he intended to suggest to the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the Chinese Government use its influence to persuade Chinese in the Settlement to display the Chinese flag on only a few occasions yearly.
The Ambassador seemed to favor as little suppression of Chinese patriotic manifestations in the Settlement as would be consistent with preservation of peace and order.
Repeated to Peiping, Shanghai.