893.73/128: Telegram

The Ambassador in China ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State

27. Following is a synopsis of Embassy translation of note from Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated January 10 and received today:

A report has been received from the Ministry of Communications that it is informed that the British, Danish and American cable companies concerned “have acceded to demands of the Japanese authorities that copies of all press telegrams be sent for censorship and that cable charges be deposited with the Yokohama Specie Bank”. The Ministry has informed the companies that the censorship procedure is detrimental to the sovereign rights of China and that telegraph charges should be paid to the Ministry as in the past in conformity with the agreements. The companies replied: “The sovereign rights of China must be respected, but under present circumstances there is no way to stop censorship by the Japanese authorities. Concerning telegram charges we have received notice from the Consuls concerned. The Japanese authorities served a notice that the telegraph charges of the company therefore could not be paid to the National Government; otherwise they would take appropriate measures. As a result of mutual discussions and in order to prevent seizure of the money by third party, it is proposed that, prior to the conclusion of the war, both parties continue to settle accounts as usual, but that the payment of the telegraph charges be temporarily stopped. It is not yet decided whether the money will be deposited with a neutral bank or the Yokohama Specie Bank, but the companies will, of course, assume [Page 232] responsibility for it.” The Ministry of Communications then stated: “The proposals mentioned above are contrary to the provisions of the mutual agreements and repugnant to the sovereign rights of this country” and that representatives would be sent to request the companies to reject the Japanese demands. It asked that the Diplomatic Missions concerned suitably instruct their respective cable companies. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs endorsed this by requesting that the Commercial Pacific Cable Company be promptly instructed to reach a satisfactory settlement with the Ministry of Communications and stated that it was similarly addressing the British and Danish Missions.

Sent to Department, repeated to Shanghai.