Press Release Issued by the Department of State on the Situation in Shanghai on August 23, 1937

At his press conference on August 17, the Secretary of State announced that (1) legislative action to make available funds for purposes of emergency relief necessitated by the situation in the Far East had been asked and that (2) this Government had given orders for a regiment of marines to prepare to proceed to Shanghai. The Secretary then discussed at some length the principles of policy on which this Government was proceeding.

The situation in Shanghai is in many respects unique. Shanghai is a great cosmopolitan center, with a population of over three million, a port which has been developed by the nationals of many countries, at which there have prevailed mutually advantageous contacts of all types and varieties between and among the Chinese and people of almost all other countries of the world. At Shanghai there exists a multiplicity of rights and interests which are of inevitable concern to many countries, including the United States.

In the present situation, the American Government is engaged in facilitating in every way possible an orderly and safe removal of American citizens from areas where there is special danger. Further, it is the policy of the American Government to afford its nationals appropriate protection, primarily against mobs or other uncontrolled elements. For that purpose it has for many years maintained small detachments of armed forces in China, and for that purpose it is sending the present small reinforcement. These armed forces there have no mission of aggression. It is their function to be of assistance toward maintenance of order and security. It has been the desire and the intention of the American Government to remove these forces when performance of their function of protection is no longer called for, and such remains its desire and expectation.

The issues and problems which are of concern to this Government in the present situation in the Pacific area go far beyond merely the immediate question of protection of the nationals and interests of the United States. The conditions which prevail in that area are intimately connected with and have a direct and fundamental relationship to the general principles of policy to which attention was called in the statement of July 16, which statement has evoked expressions of approval from more than 50 governments. This Government is firmly of the opinion that the principle summarized in that statement should effectively govern international relationships.

When there unfortunately arises in any part of the world the threat or the existence of serious hostilities, the matter is of concern to all nations. Without attempting to pass judgment regarding the merits of the controversy, we appeal to the parties to refrain from resort to war. We urge that they settle their differences in accordance with principles which, in the opinion not alone of our people but of most peoples of the world, should govern in international relationships. We consider applicable throughout the world, in the Pacific area as elsewhere, the principles set forth in the statement of July 16. That statement of principles is comprehensive and basic It embraces the principles embodied in many treaties, including the Washington Conference treaties and the Kellogg-Briand Pact of Paris.

From the beginning of the present controversy in the Far East we have been urging upon both the Chinese and the Japanese Govern meets the importance of refraining from hostilities and of maintaining peace. We have been participating constantly in consultation with interested governments directed toward peaceful adjustment This Government does not believe in political alliances or entangle meets, nor does it believe in extreme isolation. It does believe in international cooperation for the purpose of seeking through pacific methods the achievement of those objectives set forth in the statement of July 16. In the light of our well-defined attitude and policies, and within the range thereof, this Government is giving most solicitous attention to every phase of the Far Eastern situation, toward safeguarding the lives and welfare of our people and making effective the policies-especially the policy of peace-in which this country believes and to which it is committed.

This Government is endeavoring to see kept alive, strengthened, and revitalized, in reference to the Pacific area and to all the world, these fundamental principles.

Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 375-376.

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