393.11/430: Telegram

The Chargé in China ( Mayer ) to the Secretary of State

73. My 61, January 22, 6 p.m.

Following two messages from American consul at Chungking, first of which has been much delayed due to the garbled transmission:

“January 18, noon. Referring to the Legation’s telegram of January 13, 3 p.m.

There are approximately 700 Americans and British in the Szechuan area that would be affected by the use of foreign naval force on middle or lower Yangtze.
If developments should occur necessitating prompt withdrawal of even a majority of these people a hopeless congestion from Chungking would result because of inadequate transportation facilities through danger zone. February is normally low-water month and it is expected that drop in river may therefore further curtail existing transport facilities.
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Under these circumstances I have already urged immediate withdrawal of all Americans west of Chungking to and including Chengtu and Yachow, withdrawal of women and children from Chungking and from Szechuan east of Chungking. Americans have begun to move through Chungking en route to Shanghai.

My desire is to reduce number of foreigners in Szechuan to a number that the available transportation facilities can care for with reasonable despatch in the event of necessity.”

“January 21, noon. Referring to the Legation’s telegram January 18, 11 a.m. Szechuan is quiet except for minor antiforeign disturbances unconnected with lower Yangtze. Fifty Americans and twenty-seven British subjects have withdrawn from Szechuan to date. Approximately fifty more Americans are expected to arrive in Chungking from the interior within twelve days. A considerable number of Americans have elected to remain at Chengtu ‘unless ordered out by the Government’. One hundred British subjects including consul and vice consul are leaving Chengtu in parties of about thirty for Chungking. A few British subjects are electing to remain. Information concerning evacuation in the interior is very slow in reaching Chungking. So far as I have been able to ascertain, no other foreigners than Americans and British are contemplating evacuation.

After consultation with American mission and businessmen I indorse the Nanking recommendation insofar as it applies to Szechuan.

In addition to insuring safety of Americans, a general evacuation would constitute a plain warning to the Nationalists without committing the American Government and might have a moderating influence.

If the Nanking recommendation is against the Department’s instructions I suggest that the Legation’s instruction to me be prompt and as emphatic as possible.”

“Nanking recommendation” referred to in last paragraph is Davis’ January 16, 3 p.m., repeated to Department in Legation’s 42, January 17, 7 p.m.
I have telegraphed American consul at Chungking in the manner indicated in my 61, January 22, 6 p.m., to Department and in view of the latest information from Shanghai (see my 65, January 24, 3 p.m., to Department2), it seemed advisable also to instruct consul at Changsha to expedite evacuation of Americans from his district while maintaining a policy of doing so quietly and without reference to evacuation from territory under Nationalist control.
I am gratified to note that a report from the commander of the North China Patrol, dated January 20, states that missionaries passing through Chungking are telegraphing those remaining in interior to leave immediately.
  1. Not printed.