125.461/10–1746: Telegram

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

1679. ReDeptel 834, October 5. Problem of reestablishing Consulate General [at] Harbin has received attention of Embassy since last April when Foreign Office informed Embassy that there was no objection on part of Chinese Government to such action.

In late April approaches to Soviet officials at Changchun for tentative arrangements land American aircraft at Harbin with Consular personnel were well received but were not productive before Soviet evacuation of city and its occupation by Chinese Communists. In May Communists informed Clubb at Mukden that Harbin Field was inoperable and therefore arrangements could not be made for the arrival of State Department personnel.

Following arrival Executive Headquarters truce team at Harbin, commanding officer of team was informed on June 21 by General Lin Piao that he could not be responsible for safety of American Consul General and was therefore opposed to his arrival before agreement was reached at Nanking for permanent settlement of Manchurian conflict. Although local Communist leaders in Manchuria subsequently indicated to Consul General, Mukden, that they would welcome the establishment of Consulate General at Harbin, it seemed evident that Communists have endeavored to tie question of establishing office to overall political negotiations in train at Nanking.

[Page 1148]

In late July Li Min-jan, political adviser to General Lin Piao, informed General Timberman, Director of Operations for Executive Headquarters, 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 Embassy. Embassy has adopted position, however, that it could not approach Communists directly for permission to reestablish office at Harbin inasmuch as U. S. recognizes only National Government as central government of China and because that Government had expressed no objection to reestablishment of office. With approval of General Marshall on August 29, Embassy, acting on suggestion of Clubb, authorized him to make preparations proceed Harbin as soon as possible and requested his views with regard to desirability of informing Communist delegation at Nanking of proposed reestablishment of office prior to his departure from Mukden or whether he would prefer to proceed without prior notification. On September 4 Clubb expressed desire proceed Harbin without advance notification to Communists. On September 6, however, Clubb reversed his recommendation and requested that notification in advance of movement to Harbin be made to Communists. This was because the only practicable means of transportation for Clubb, equipment and staff was offered by military aircraft under control Executive Headquarters branch in Manchuria. It had been customary for Executive Headquarters to notify Communists of all flights to Harbin and personnel being carried thereon. In view of this procedure, Executive Headquarters was unwilling to transport Clubb and staff without prior clearance with Communists inasmuch as it was considered that Communist confidence in Executive Headquarters would be undermined by such action.

On September 10 the question of reestablishment of Consulate General at Harbin was discussed with General Chou En-lai at Nanking and he agreed to communicate with Communist authorities Manchuria. At that time he anticipated communicating with Embassy within a few days but no reply has been received to date despite followup inquiry of Communist delegation.

Embassy has considered utilizing aircraft of its Naval and Military Attachés, but General Timberman has expressed opinion to General Marshall that aircraft proceeding to Harbin without prior Communist clearance would undoubtedly be regarded as hostile and subject to attack.

Inasmuch as neither General Marshall nor the Embassy wishes to place the position of Executive Headquarters in Manchuria or American [Page 1149]lives in jeopardy, the question of Clubb’s proceeding to Harbin has been held in abeyance. In the meanwhile political developments have obviously not improved the position.

Paraphrase to Clubb by courier.

Stuart