The Consul General at Shanghai (Davis) to the Secretary of State

No. 330

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch no. 23, of February 9, 1946 to the Embassy4 concerning the occupation of American mission property and to report that a certain degree of success is at last being achieved in gaining the evacuation of Chinese troops and government organizations from mission properties in this consular district. There is enclosed for the Department’s information a list4 of the mission organizations which have reported cases of occupation of their properties by troops or government organizations with an indication of the present status of these cases.

It is believed that the Department should be informed of the delaying tactics and procrastination which have characterized the actions of the Chinese authorities in almost every instance in which this office has endeavored to assist mission organizations in the recovery of their property.

The initial report of difficulty in repossessing mission property in China was made by Bishop Ralph Ward of the Methodist Mission after a month’s inspection tour through the Yangtze Valley in the autumn of 1945. Bishop Ward inspected mission properties at Kiukiang, Anking, Wuhu, Nanking, Chinkiang, and other places and stated that the damage and looting by Chinese Government troops since the Japanese surrender was greater than that by the Japanese. This was reported by telegram no. 274 to the Department on November 27, 1945.5 The Department authorized the Consulate General at Shanghai to request the appropriate Chinese authorities to effect the removal of the occupying troops or organizations and to afford protection to the properties. Accordingly several lists of occupied mission properties in the Yangtze Valley were obtained from the National Christian Council and forwarded to the Embassy at Chungking (despatch no. 8, December 28, 19454) in order that precise data would be available to support a request for protection to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the meantime it was reported in the Ta Kung Pao, Shanghai, December 26, 1945, that the Executive Yuan had taken steps to deal with the problem. A translation of this report follows: [Page 1372]

News Item

Translation of a news item appearing in the Ta Kung Pao, Shanghai, December 26, 1945.

protection for missionary churches at various places

  • —Military units ordered to move out within a time limit—
  • —Order issued by the Executive Yuan to leading military and administrative officials throughout the country yesterday—

Central News Agency telegram—

“Chungking, December 25th:—It is learned that the Executive Yuan on December 25th telegraphed to the commanding officers of various war zone commands and the chairmen of various provincial governments, ordering them to require those military units which are occupying missionary churches at various places in the recovered areas to move out within one month, in order to respect religion and special privileges of missionary societies.”

The lists of occupied properties were transmitted by the Embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 5, 1946, with the request that prompt steps be taken to evacuate the properties. The Ministry reported on January 15, 1946, that the appropriate authorities had circulated an instruction to the troops concerned to vacate the various properties.

The question of issuing proclamations for posting on mission property was also raised and the Ministry requested that complete lists of all American mission property in China be submitted in order that this action might be taken. This would have been too large a task for the mission organizations at the time, but this Consulate General was able to obtain a number of posters from the Headquarters of General Ho Ying-chin at Nanking. These were issued to several mission organizations in the Shanghai area and were reported to be effective.

On February 3, 1946, Major Bacon H. N. Pan, Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Department of General Ho Ying-chin’s Headquarters called at the Consulate General at Shanghai and was given tentative lists of American mission property in the consular district. General Ho was requested to take immediate action to have the premises vacated and returned to their rightful owners.

On February 4, 1946, the Embassy informed the Consulate General that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had referred the matter to the appropriate authorities and that the Chinese Army Headquarters had been approached by telegram to order the immediate evacuation of the occupied property in accordance with the instruction issued by the National Military Council of January 11, 1946.

On March 26, 1946, Major General Pao Ching-an, Chief of the Foreign Affairs Department of Chinese Army General Headquarters [Page 1373] called at the Consulate General and received a list of American mission property in the Shanghai Consular District. He stated that all American property in Nanking had been returned to the persons concerned. He also stated that in connection with the other property he would have orders issued to the commanding generals to vacate the property.

General Ho Ying-chin addressed letters to the Consulate General on March 11, 1946 and on April 26 [25], 19466 transmitting replies from the Provincial Governments of Kiangsi and Kiangsu and the Municipal Government of Shanghai to the effect that the troops and organizations would be removed from the mission properties in those areas.

In general it would appear that the National Government of China and the high military leaders were making every effort to have the American mission properties evacuated and returned to their owners promptly. An examination of specific cases, however, shows that in nearly every case procrastination and delay on the part of individual military units or government organizations have been the principal factors. A part of the delay may be traced to the lack of initiative and decisive action on the part of the mission authorities in pressing directly for action with the units concerned. This is a minor factor, however, compared to the apparent lack of good faith on the part of the Chinese Army commanders who have ignored clearly established property rights and, also, it would seem, the direct orders of their superiors.

A typical example of the long drawn out negotiations which were necessary in almost every instance, in spite of the definite orders from the Central Government and Army Headquarters to respect mission property rights is the case of the St. Mary’s School premises of the American Church Mission at 63 Brenan Road, Shanghai. There follows a summary of the correspondence necessary to achieve the evacuation of this property.

[Here follows detailed summary.]

Obviously orders from above had little effect in this particular case. Personal representations to the commanders of the units concerned apparently give greater promise of success. This Consulate General is consequently attempting to use this approach as much as possible in dealing with the remaining cases of occupied mission property.

The Department and the Embassy will be kept informed of further developments in the cases of unrecovered properties and of new cases as they arise.

Respectfully yours,

Monnett B. Davis
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vii, p. 1408.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Neither printed.