Japanese 'guard' U.S. properties in North China (7-30-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (July 30, 1941)


Aims of retaliation campaign uncertain; American embargo expected

Shanghai, July 30 (UP) –
American consular officials said today that the Japanese have placed “protective guards” around certain American-owned properties in North China.

Among the American properties listed by the U.S. consul here as placed under Japanese protective guard were the Standard Oil Co. and Texas Oil Co. installations at Swatow, Chefoo and Tsingtao, the American-owned Universal Leaf Tobacco Co. plants at Tsingtao, and the National City Bank of New York branch at Darien.

However, National City authorities said the Japanese had not occupied their branches. The bank added that it is closing its branches at Canton and Peiping tomorrow, leaving only the branch at Tientsin open in Japanese-occupied territory.

A Tokyo dispatch confirmed that Japanese troops had occupied American-owned properties earlier in the day, but said the American firms were evacuated when the Japanese Army was advised that it had “misunderstood” Japanese action freezing American assets.

Officials were uncertain whether the Japanese intend to close the businesses or exert control of them.

Chinese on guard

A United Press dispatch from Peiping said American properties at Tsingtao and Chefoo, on the Shandong Peninsula, and at Mukden and Darien, in the far northeast, had also been placed under guard.

Reports here said specifically that the Japanese had stationed Chinese gendarmes about all American and British properties at Tsingtao.

It was reported that among the British properties under guard at Tsingtao was the plant of the Asiatic Petroleum Co.

Offices of the Hong Kong-Shanghai Bank at Mukden and Swatow have been surrounded, informants said.

Funds tied up

Peiping reported the foreign communities in Northern China to be anxious because of the new situation. Withdrawals from foreign banks are heavy, a United Press Peiping dispatch said, as all American and British funds in Japanese and Chinese banks have been used up by Japanese Army authorities.

American banks were hesitant in distributing funds, it was said, pending clarification of the situation.

American and British consular and business representatives here watched closely for signs of activity by the Nanking regime, which Japan set up in occupied territory in China in an attempt to undermine the influence of the Chinese government.

The Nanking regime

It was believed that the Nanking regime would take the initiative in “protectively seizing” American and British properties in territory which Japan controls, acting at the instigation of the Japanese Army.

If the American and British governments choose to believe that the Nanking regime was actually responsible, it was pointed out, they could do nothing to retaliate because the Nanking regime has no foreign credits to be frozen. Japan could disavow responsibility for the action, it was said.

It was understood that officials of the American Texas and Standard Oil companies anticipated action by the Nanking regime which would tie up great quantities of American oil in occupied territory.

Uncertainty was acute in shipping quarters also. Japanese liners are now booking passengers for United States ports but will not guarantee passage beyond Kobe, Japan.

Embargo expected

Shippers expect an American embargo which will mean that almost no American ships will call here and the British are expected to follow suit.

Japanese customs authorities today issued a revised list of articles which they refused to permit to be exported from Shanghai.

The embargoed products were rubber, except rubber manufactures; coal, raw cotton and cotton waste hemp, jute and ramie (an East Asiatic perennial plant cultivated for its fiber), sheep’s wool, all ores, all metals, all machinery, chemicals and chemical compounds for medical and industrial uses, except vegetable compounds; hides and leathers except furs and skins; rice, bran and paddy (unmilled rice); wheat and wheat flour, dyes and dye-stuffs, varnishes, paints, enamels and pigments and similar products, and vegetable oils and edibles.