Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of State Robert Lansing to United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom Walter Hines Page

FOR INFORMATION

PARAPHRASE

SECRET        <May 2, 1918.>

TO        American Embassy, London.

FROM      Department of State, signed “LANSING”

DATED     May 2, 6 p.m.

RECEIVED  May 3, 8 a.m.

NO        Circular.

          The Chinese Minister1 yesterday conveyed to the Department the information that his Government under the instigation of the French Government was making preparations to send two hundred thousand troops to Europe; that the project is to be financed by the French Government, which will also provide shipping transportation, jointly with British. The troops are to be sent via the Suez Canal and 40 thousand of them are to start at once.2

          This Government is greatly surprised to learn that negotiations are taking place without its knowledge in view of the disfavor with which the same project was regarded a few months ago when the United States Government approached the Governments of Great Britain and France on the subject. Please transmit by cable any information you can secure.

          Repeat to Paris the foregoing message.

<Lansing.>

MR. LAUGHLIN.3

          (Repeated according to request.)

     (Copies sent the Naval and Military Attachès )

              for their information.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Vi Kyuin Wellington Koo.

Footnote 2: France abandoned the project of recruiting Chinese soldiers due to strong British opposition. Roughly 140,000 (and possibly more) Chinese laborers worked for the Allies during the war, employed by both the British and French armies. Their duties included the loading and unloading of supplies, various construction projects, and other manual labor. Although they often operated within range of enemy guns, most of those killed by the Central Powers were aboard transports sunk by German U-boats; many others died in the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919, with a total death toll of over 2,000. Alex Calvo and Bao Qiaoni, “Forgotten Voices from the Great War: The Chinese Labour Corps,” The Asia-Pacific Journal Volume 13, Issue 51, no. 1 (December 21, 2015): https://apjjf.org/-Alex-Calvo/4411.

Footnote 3: Irwin B. Laughlin, Secretary to Ambassador Page.

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