893.00/13891: Telegram

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

15. A letter dated January 9, 6 p.m. from Swenson at Sian was received January 11, 6 p.m. having been smuggled out. The letter [Page 553]states in brief that exits from Sian were closed and asked that 17 people be evacuated including 12 American missionaries. Ordinary communications by post office and telegraph were not available. Foreign residents in Sian had been deprived for 1 month of news about conditions outside. Motor cars were not allowed to leave the city, the outer guards refusing even recognize military passes. Foreigners had impression that they were being held as hostages to save Sian from an aerial bombardment. Railway had not functioned since December 12. Majority of the Chinese population of Sian was not in favor of the rebellious attitude of the local authorities but the latter had linked themselves closely with the Communists in a common purpose to fight the National Government. Swenson said reliable information had been received that thousands of Communist troops were approaching Sian from the north and northwest and foreigners had grave fears of chaos in Sian which would follow a defeat of these forces by the National Government troops. Letter made earnest plea that Embassy devise immediate evacuation. Petersen family of three American citizens at Pingliang, Kansu, had been advised not to attempt to travel east. American women Wedicson and Madsen, of Tsingning, Kansu, were at Lunghsien while Americans Mr. and Mrs. Gustafson and Mr. Ratzlaff of Lunghsien 1 week before had gone to Hanchung, southern Shensi. All other British and American missionaries in West Shensi had reached Hanchung.

Sent Peiping, Hankow and Shanghai.

Johnson