893.00/7–2646: Telegram

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

1200. Following from Kunming.

70, July 24, 7 p.m. General Ho’s deputy, Colonel Tu, on July 19 submitted letter from General Ho requesting Consulate General “to [Page 1411] transfer those persons now under your protection to this headquarters for legal and proper protection” and said “adequate protection will be provided”. Colonel Tu assured ConGen orally that “transfer” did not mean bodily transfer of persons; that persons could return to their homes; that “transfer” referred to transfer of protection. On basis ambiguous written guarantee and specific oral guarantee ConGen advised refugees return their homes which they immediately did.

Following day in formal call on General Ho to present note and request written confirmation he repudiated Colonel Tu’s oral assurances and said that unless persons were directly and bodily transferred to his headquarters to be put under guard he could not provide adequate protection. I informed General Ho that I would not transfer these persons to his headquarters without their prior consent and he then stated that he would provide adequate protection if refugees concentrated themselves in three places outside his headquarters. I stated I would reply to him through FonMin delegate following morning. After informing representatives of refugees specific conditions set down by General Ho, he reluctantly agreed, even though it probably meant indefinite confinement under guard. On July 21 at 11:50 a.m. I delivered list of three places to FonMin delegate with request they be urgently forwarded to General Ho and included request of these persons that they be granted freedom of movement. Although FonMin delegate assured me that note was immediately forwarded General Ho upon receipt, no reply has been received to this date nor have guards been despatched as evidence that our note has been received.

Since by 10 p.m. July 21 guards had not been despatched and conditions of terrorism still prevalent, it was clear that in case of any overt act General Ho had maneuvered himself so that he could and would state that he had not received or did not acknowledge ConGen’s communication (Colonel Tu reported last night that note first received late yesterday, contrary to FonMin delegate’s report) and could accept no responsibility.

Under these circumstances and fully cognizant of General Ho’s ruthlessness and real objectives in this case, ConGen had no reasonable alternative but to extend requested shelter until receipt of formal written acknowledgment from General Ho. If ConGen had not so acted onus for any subsequent overt act would not have fallen on local authorities but morally on ConGen. In addition to question of onus, for which General Ho has shown no particular concern and can be expected to show none pending receipt of instructions to end terrorism or acceptance by him in writing of responsibility for protection in non-ambiguous terms, question of human life involved.

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ConGen is waiting for formal written assurances from General Ho. In event General Ho insists that he will provide protection only if refugees are confined to three places under his guard and are not permitted to leave these places, should ConGen advise persons to leave or insist on freedom of movement for these persons? General Ho’s position would be wholly justifiable if persons responsible for assassinations not under Govt, control. Colonel Tu has twice telephoned that assurances to above effect will be sent ConGen and requested us to act immediately (before receipt written assurances).

Upon receipt of Embtel 67,96 ConGen removed American guards. Guards originally posted inside ConGen because it believed in light unstable local conditions their presence would avert rather than invite further incident. Urgent reply requested.

Yang Tsu-an, Lung Yun’s chief [aide] whose arrest previously reported, reportedly beaten and tortured to elicit confession for Li and Wen assassinations.

  1. See telegram No. 1180, July 23, 6 p.m., from the Ambassador in China, p. 1401