751G.94/24: Telegram

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

393. Following is text of a personal and confidential letter dated August 10 from the Minister for Foreign Affairs:

“Dear Mr. Johnson: From the French Government at Vichy and other reliable sources we have learned that the Japanese have demanded [Page 71] the Indo-Chinese Government to permit the passage of Japanese troops [to?] China’s southwestern provinces and have probably presented other demands of a similar nature including the establishment of military and naval bases in the French colony. We naturally feel very much concerned and have warned the French Government against permitting or conniving at any Japanese military operations in Indo-China directed against this country. We are taking all possible precautions and will, in the event of the Japanese armed forces extending their sphere of action to Indo-China, adopt such measures as are necessary to and compatible with the security of the southern provinces.

We know that the Government of the United States is likewise deeply concerned with any attempt at disturbing by force the status quo of Indo-China as well as the possible invasion of yet another part of China’s territory through a neighboring country. We are sure that the Government of the United States is watching this particular phase of the Far Eastern situation very attentively. The representations reported to have been made by Ambassador Grew to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in this regard might, I hope, produce some restraining influence on the Japanese who after all cannot fail to realize that the United States is an important factor always to be reckoned with in their attempt at establishing ‘a new order in greater East Asia’, which geographical expression, as the Japanese authorities have unblushingly pointed out, includes all South Sea regions.

The Chinese Government, and naturally the French Government too, will be very much interested to know, I feel, what action if any the Government of the United States will take in case of an actual attack by the Japanese on Indo-China with a view to the invasion of Southwestern China. I have reason to believe that the indication of the attitude of the Government of the United States commensurate with the seriousness of the situation likely to develop will go a long way to strengthen the Dutch Government and even the French to resist attack and thus help us secure the best possible result through our own efforts.

I shall be much obliged if you will kindly refer this question to the Department of State and confidentially inform me of its views there anent. (Signed) Wang Chung Hui.”

Repeated Peiping, latter mail to Tokyo.