125.0093/12–1047: Telegram

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

2373. We have requested by courier opinions of officers in charge Changchun, Chungking, Hankow, Peiping, Tientsin, Tsingtao, and Mukden with regard course of action in event their posts are in danger [Page 632] of being overrun by Communist Forces (reDeptel 1471, December 5, 4 p.m.)

In common with Department, we are also unwilling instruct officers remain at posts where grave personal danger likely. In the absence of specific instructions from the Department, we consider officers in own areas best fitted estimate local conditions and possible developments and that decision to remain or to withdraw in face of Communist advance should be voluntary on part of officer concerned.

Although Embassy does not doubt that concerned officers would elect to remain, pending clarification by Department they have been informed that it is not our purpose to require officers to remain at posts where they are subject to abnormal risks and if at any time, in their opinion, they feel that conditions require withdrawal we are prepared make use all available facilities effect evacuation. Furthermore, concerned officers have been informed that if they are reluctant to request evacuation on own initiative, Embassy should be informed in order that we may assume responsibility by issuing formal instructions.

As pointed out in Embtel 1367, June 21, 5 p.m., Embassy considers it unlikely that cities now held by Government if taken by Communists will be taken by assault. From available information as evidenced by fall of Shihchiachuang it is more likely that there will be either Government evacuation or surrender, and danger to our officers aside from period of active hostilities close to cities would be during period of transfer of authority. We are of the firm opinion that consular establishments should not be closed in face of Communist advance and that skeleton male staffs should remain. We feel, however, that our personnel should not be required to remain in absence of specific instructions. In this connection we assume that Department appreciates the extra hazardous duty which personnel might be called upon to perform and that consideration is being given to provision for adequate Government insurance covering injury and pension provisions for dependents in case of death. We have in mind provisions made for members of the armed services in like circumstances and in the absence of such provisions we do not feel that officers or other personnel should be required to subject themselves to unusual risks, even though such risks would normally be for limited periods.

Department will be advised further when replies from Consuls have been received, and in the meantime we should appreciate Department’s comment on immediately preceding paragraph.

Sent Department 2373, December 10, 5 p.m.; by mail to Changchun, Chungking, Hankow, Peiping, Tientsin, Tsingtao, Mukden.