Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

Memorandum by the Minister-Counselor of Embassy in China ( Butterworth ) to General Marshall

It has been the desire of the Embassy since the early part of the year to re-establish the American Consulate General at Harbin. Personnel is available in Mukden for this purpose, but thus far Communist permission to proceed to Harbin has not been forthcoming.

On April 22 the Foreign Office informed the Embassy that there was no objection on the part of the Chinese Government to the re-establishment of the Consulate General at Harbin. In late April approaches to Soviet officials at Changchun for tentative arrangements to land a plane at Harbin were well received but were not completed before the Soviet evacuation of the city and its occupation by Chinese Communists. In May the Communists informed Clubb at Mukden that the Harbin airfield was unusable and arrangements therefore could not be made for the arrival of State Department personnel.

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Following the arrival of a truce team at Harbin, Colonel Tourtillott33 was informed on June 21 by General Lin Piao that he could not be responsible for the safety of the American Consul General and Assistant Military Attache and was therefore opposed to their arrival before agreement had been reached at Nanking for permanent settlement of the Manchurian conflict. Subsequent conversations with Communist officials in Manchuria indicate that they still hold to this position.

In late July Li Min-jan, political adviser to General Lin Piao, informed General Timberman and the Consul General at Mukden that General Lin would welcome the establishment of the Consulate General at Harbin, but felt that it was necessary to refer the matter to Yenan. He professed confidence that approval would be granted, but said that Yenan would probably not act until approached by the Embassy.

On August 2, in an after dinner conversation with General Chou En-lai,34 I mentioned that we had received messages from Washington indicating that the Department of State was growing restive over the rather inexplicable delays in connection with the re-establishment of the Consulate General at Harbin. I referred to the fact that the officer designated was still at Mukden although he had reported that the Communist representative had given him to understand that he greatly favored the re-establishment of the Consulate General at Harbin. On August 10 I asked General Chou if he had received any word from Yenan on this subject, and General Chou replied in the negative.

Clubb at Mukden has pointed out the need for having a trained political observer at Harbin and the importance also, in such a scarce economy, of re-establishing the office and providing for his staff before the arrival of cold weather. In this the Embassy concurs.

The Embassy does not feel that it can approach Yenan directly for permission to re-establish the Consulate General inasmuch as the United States recognizes only the Nationalist Government as the Central Government of China, and this Government has no objection to the re-establishment of the Consulate General at Harbin. Would you give consideration to the following course of action:

Clubb with necessary staff and equipment be ordered to proceed to Harbin immediately to re-establish the Consulate General; General Chou En-lai be informed that such action is being taken, and that if Clubb’s efforts meet with obstruction from the local authorities at Harbin and he is therefore unable to carry out his mission, the Embassy [Page 1142] on withdrawing him would issue a public statement indicating the reason for his withdrawal.

I do not believe that we should longer submit to this apparent Communist obstruction of our efforts to re-establish the Consulate General at Harbin.35

W. Walton Butterworth
  1. Raymond R. Tourtillott, American member of advance section of Executive Headquarters at Changchun.
  2. Head of the Chinese Communist Party delegation at Nanking.
  3. In a memorandum dated August 21 (OSE 389), General Marshall wrote that he had no objection to the plan for reestablishing the Consulate General at Harbin.