Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270

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

With regard to the project of reopening the consular establishment at Harbin, I am attaching a copy of a message from Clubb at Mukden38 [Page 1143] which made it necessary to apprise General Chou En-lai of our intentions.

The Ambassador39 and I talked with General Chou this morning, and he adopted the position that inasmuch as the United States was helping the Kuomintang as against the Communists, they did not favor the establishment of an American consular office in Communist-controlled territory. He attempted to link the matter with the over-all negotiations now in train, pointing out particularly the unwillingness of the Generalissimo40 to issue a general cease fire order. While refusing to enter into such a discussion, I pointed out to General Chou the obvious advantages to the Communist side of having the Consulate General established at Harbin, also indicating that consular offices of third powers, including the Soviet Union, were already functioning in Harbin. I also tried to make it clear to him that it would not be to the Communists’ advantage to have a definite refusal on their part to permit the reopening of the office reported to Washington. I further pointed out that Li Li-san, in conversation with Clubb at Mukden in mid-August [mid-July?], had said that he (Li Li-san) had no objection to the reestablishment of the office, but because of the overall situation must refer the matter to Yenan.

General Chou professed to have no knowledge of Li Li-san’s conversation with Clubb but agreed to send a message to the Communist authorities in Manchuria and said that he expected to have a reply within four or five days. The Communists are obviously taking advantage of our desire to reestablish a Consulate General at Harbin to link the matter with the overall negotiations and, in spite of General Chou’s promise to send a message to Manchuria, I doubt that permission for Clubb to proceed will be forthcoming.

In these circumstances, I believe there are but two possible courses of action open to us: (1) that if the reply to Chou’s message to the Communist authorities in Manchuria is unfavorable, we force the issue by sending Clubb in without Communist permission either in an Executive Headquarters plane, or, to save Executive Headquarters from embarrassment, the plane of either the Military or Naval Attache of the Embassy; and (2) in case of an unfavorable reply to Chou from Manchuria, a statement be made to the press that the Communists have refused permission for Clubb to proceed to Harbin.

[Page 1144]

In view of the functioning of other Consular offices at Harbin and the fact that the United States has permission of the recognized Government of China to reestablish an office which it has maintained in Harbin for many years prior to the war, I do not believe that we should submit longer to this intolerable situation. Furthermore, it is altogether possible that if General Chou is apprised of our intention to give publicity to the situation, he will not be prepared to risk aggravating American displeasure at and distrust of Chinese Communists.

W. Walton Butterworth
  1. Telegram No. 189, September 6, 2 p.m.; it reported that Chinese Communists in Manchuria required clearance for all Executive Headquarters aircraft and passengers proceeding to Harbin; and that Col. Andrew C. Tyschen, commanding officer of advance base of Executive Headquarters in Manchuria, was therefore reluctant to fly personnel of the proposed Consulate General into Harbin without Communist consent.
  2. J. Leighton Stuart.
  3. President Chiang Kai-shek.