893.801/6–3049: Telegram

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

2572. With publication of our note re blockade, questions likely to be raised with Consulate General by local American shipping interests, also by consular colleagues, as to precisely what Department contemplates.

Blockade, while probably not effective at other ports, may well be effective Shanghai. It has not, however, been “declared” and is therefore presumably non-existent in our view. If Nationalists’ warships should interfere with American shipping proceeding to or from Shanghai, what action would Department contemplate? Department will appreciate that if any American ship were tied up with heavy demurrage charges through protests, legal red tape and lengthy claims procedure, practical effect would be to discourage American shipping from coming to Shanghai despite our attitude re blockade. On other hand, convoying American shipping limit territorial waters or demanding release of seized shipping with show of force is open to obvious objections. If Department contemplates convoys, Nationalists’ warships might still serve ships within territorial waters. Would Department, [Page 1117]in this event, authorize convoys within territorial waters if Commies’ informal consent to such convoys obtained? Secretary’s quoted remarks appear suggest that we will not use convoys, but will make claims in behalf American citizens suffering property loss. Clearly American shipping interests are suffering property loss every day their ships in practice are prevented from entering Shanghai by Nationalists’ forces. What action, if any, does Department contemplate taking this regard? Would appreciate urgent instructions.

Sent Department, repeated Nanking 1413.