The Counselor of Embassy in China (Smyth) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 18.]
Subject: Occupation of American Mission Property by Chinese Troops.
Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that following the end of the war in China the Embassy received an increasing number of complaints from American mission organizations that their property had been occupied by Chinese troops who refused to return the property to its owners. There is enclosed a list of notes written by the Embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting, on behalf of American mission organizations, that Chinese troops be ordered to evacuate occupied property. Although the Ministry was very cooperative in complying with the Embassy’s requests, the number of complaints continued to increase. Therefore, on December 27, 1945, the Embassy wrote to the Ministry (Note No. 85, a copy of which is enclosed) requesting that additional and more comprehensive action be taken to prevent the occupation of American mission property by Chinese troops, since once a property had been occupied, the American owner inevitably encountered considerable delay and sometimes property damage before the troops surrendered the premises. It was suggested that general instructions to Chinese Army commanders and the issuance of proclamations identifying American property would be helpful. The Ministry replied in its note of January 15 (copy enclosed) stating that the appropriate authorities have circulated instructions to the troops concerned to vacate mission properties occupied by them but that they are unable to comply with the Embassy’s suggestion that proclamations be issued in the absence of information on the numbers and locations of mission properties in China.[Page 1367]
Since it would obviously be a formidable task to list all American mission property in China, the Embassy has suggested to the Consulate General in Shanghai the following alternative procedure. The Consulate General has been asked to inform mission organizations, most of which have their headquarters in Shanghai, that if they desire proclamations to be posted on their property in order to protect it from occupation by Chinese troops, they should supply the Consulate General with the name and address, in English and Chinese, of the property in question. The Consulate General will then forward the request to the Embassy which will transmit it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ask that the appropriate local authorities be instructed to issue the proclamations. Although this is a somewhat cumbersome procedure, it is believed that it offers a satisfactory solution to the problem.
In most cases the Embassy has not been informed by the missions of the results of its representations, but it is believed that they have generally been effective since in only one or two instances has a mission appealed to the Embassy a second time. The Consulate General in Shanghai informed the Embassy on January 10 that the University of Shanghai premises had been evacuated.
Another problem arising from the occupation of mission property by Chinese Troops is the removal or destruction of furniture and equipment by these troops. In one case reported in detail to the Embassy, the Bethesda Hospital at Siangyang, Hupeh, claims to have lost property valued at approximately $2,000 United States currency. This loss occurred in May and June of this year during the occupation of the hospital by the Chinese Army. The Embassy would appreciate being informed whether this claim and similar claims submitted by American missionary organizations, should be presented to the Chinese Government. Some property damage committed by Chinese troops occurred during the war period but much of it apparently has taken place since the end of the war, during the re-occupation of liberated territories.