The Consul General at Dairen (Benninghoff) to the Ambassador in China (Stuart)38

No. 31

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following information concerning the situation of this office regarding communications.

On July 9 the Soviet Consul, Mr. Petroff, called at his request and referred to the attempt of this Consulate General to install a radio [Page 1184] transmitter, as reported to the Embassy in despatch No. 9 dated June 10, 1946.39 He stated that the Russian military authorities had received information to the effect that the transmitter was in operation secretly. This was, of course, entirely false, and I so informed Mr. Petroff. It was even suggested to Mr. Petroff that the military might wish to send an expert to examine the apparatus to ascertain its true condition. Mr. Petroff appeared satisfied, and nothing further transpired on this subject.

Mr. Petroff continued by stating that the Soviet military were prepared to transmit code and plain language messages to the Embassy in Moscow. This was a departure from information previously given this office which was to the effect that only messages in plain Russian could be sent. Accordingly, a message to the Embassy at Moscow was drafted in plain English, as this office has no code with which to communicate with any establishment other than the Department. The following day the Soviet Consulate stated that Russian radio operators were unable to transmit in English Morse, and that messages would have to be in the Russian alphabet or in numeral cipher. Despite the Russian statement that in principle code messages would be accepted, in actual practice this Consulate General was accordingly no better off than before.

Seven messages have been sent to Moscow; on April 16, May 10, May 20, July 8, August 6, August 9, and September 1. The Embassy may wish to check with the Embassy at Moscow regarding the receipt of these messages. Only two replies have been received, the first on June 6 and the second on August 31. This last message is apparently in the Brown code, so it cannot be deciphered unless the courier who is expected shortly brings cryptographic material. The receipt of this last message may indicate that the Russians are now willing for this office to send and receive messages in code. If the anticipated courier brings the Brown code, a further attempt will be made to communicate with the Embassy at Moscow.

In connection with the above, about two weeks ago the Nanking radio was heard to state, in Chinese, that the American Government had filed some sort of protest with the Soviet Government regarding the Communications situation of this office.

Respectfully yours,

H. Merrell Benninghoff
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department without covering despatch; received about October 16.
  2. Not printed.