393.115/11–2045: Telegram

The Consul at Tientsin (Meyer) to the Secretary of State

20. [To Embassy:] My 15, November 4, 4 p.m. and 18, November 9, noon. [2 p.m.]50 Major General Tu Chien-shih, Tientsin representative, Commanding General, Eleventh War Area, in memorandum of November 8 has requested assistance Commanding General Third Amphibious Corps in leasing properties of Manare Woolen Goods, Incorporated, and Huitung Shoe factory operated by Japanese since 1941, actually belonging respectively to Karagheusian (an American firm) and to Fairchild and Company (British). These plants are desired for the production winter gear for Chinese troops by General Chiang Shih-yi, President of North China Clothing and Leather Factory, a subsidiary of War Ministry.

While the only proper answer to this request would appear to be reference of the Chinese to the foreign owners for the arrangement of leases on a mutually satisfactory basis, unwillingness by foreign owners to comply with Chinese wishes might entail requisitioning of these properties by the Chinese military, following precedent set by Marines, but without conclusion of monetary arrangements such as the Marines are now preparing to conclude.

This appears to be an indirect method of utilizing raw materials and equipment abandoned by the Japanese on foreign premises as phase of implementing Chinese “war booty” thesis. The interested parties will of course be advised of Chinese intentions for such action as may be appropriate. Both compliance with Chinese wishes and refusal would set dangerous precedents, possibly leading to Chinese requisitioning for military use of other foreign properties.

The only effective solution to this dilemma seems to be vigorous insistence upon claim to all stocks and equipment of Japanese origin found in American properties at the close of hostilities (already affirmed by the Consulate General to General Chiang Shih-yi and reported to the Embassy in telegram No. 18) and recognition of the rights of American property owners to utilization of their own premises [Page 1408] for legitimate purposes without undue pressure or interference by the Chinese Government on grounds military necessity. Instead the Chinese might appropriately utilize unused facilities abandoned by the Japanese which are not connected with American or other foreign property interests.

Sent to Embassy, repeated to Department, true reading by air mail Peiping and Shanghai.

  1. Latter not printed.