893.76/59: Telegram

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

14. Referring to my telegram No. 1220, December 23, 11 p.m.,97 yesterday afternoon 15 persons representing the Japanese military authorities came to the radio station in the International Settlement and announced that they were immediately establishing Japanese censorship on all messages and taking control of all funds received. They handed to George Shecklen, representative of R. C. A. Communications, Incorporated, the affiliate of Radio Corporation of America, a letter from the Japanese Consul General dated yesterday saying that the Japanese military authorities having reached the decision on November 27 to place the Chinese Government Radio Administration under their control they were now despatching their agents to the spot to give effect to that decision.

2. By an unsigned letter dated today and received about noon Shecklen informed me of the foregoing and asked me immediately to enter a strong protest on behalf of his company and to urge that the Japanese authorities agree to neutral censorship and to the deposit intestate in a neutral bank of the net revenues until a peace commission or other similar body shall decide to whom they belong.

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3. I called on the Japanese Consul General this afternoon and represented to him orally and by memorandum that the Radio Corporation and the Mackay Company, both American companies, have definite and substantial interests in the radio establishment at Shanghai and in the revenues thereof by way of traffic and other agreements and that the American authorities expect that these, the American interests, will be scrupulously respected and protected.

4. I discussed protocol at length with the Japanese Consul General and a secretary whom he called in as being familiar with the details. I was repeatedly assured that the Japanese authorities will respect the traffic agreements held by the foreign companies and that they will also respect any other obligations due under any agreement to the Radio Corporation. As at the request of Shecklen, I advanced the proposals for the neutral censorship and deposit of funds in a neutral bank. I was informed that these proposals made by Shecklen had been reported to the Japanese military who found them definitively unacceptable. I pointed out that according to Shecklen Japanese control would probably result in a walkout of the Chinese staff. They asserted they are prepared to meet that situation, and that they desire to continue the radio service and will maintain it. I inquired whether there had been any consideration of control by a neutral committee of representatives of the interested foreign companies. They replied that such a proposal had been considered at the beginning but was opposed by Shecklen and would not now be given consideration.

5. The Chinese staff has not yet walked out but Shecklen expects them to do so on orders of the Ministry of Communications to which he has reported the situation.

6. The Japanese again told me that they question the agreement dated July 7 under which Shecklen claims his company has control and management of the Shanghai station. They question the date and also whether the agreement was made in good faith and not for ulterior purposes. Japanese Consul General also told me he had positive proof that certain statements or assurances given by Shecklen that the radio station was not being used for the transmission of military information to the Chinese were untrue.

6. [7?] It remains to be seen whether the Japanese are prepared at once to staff and maintain the radio service if the Chinese walk out. While the main office is in the International Settlement, several sending and receiving stations are in the French Concession.

The French Ambassador discussed this matter with me yesterday morning, inquiring concerning the alleged agreement of July 7, asserting that Japanese censors would not be permitted in the French Concession but could operate in the International Settlement, that the several foreign companies should agree on a common policy where-upon [Page 219] the representatives of the interested powers could deal with the Japanese and Chinese sides, and assured me that in the interest of maintaining radio service, since the cables are likely at any time to be broken, he will do what he can to keep the stations in the French Concession in operation as long as possible.

7. [8?] I have long been convinced that Shecklen could not maintain his position against the Japanese particularly in view of their distrust of him and that the only solution which would adequately have protected all interests was to be found in a committee control which the Japanese say they will not now consider.

Sent to the Department. Repeated to Hankow for information.

  1. Not printed.