The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal)

Dear Mr. Secretary: I refer to the question of policy with regard to Tsingtao in the event of an attack by Chinese Communists on that city. This question was raised, you will recall, by Admiral Badger’s message of May 3 and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s instructions to him of May 12. You will also remember that I discussed this matter with you on May 14 and that we agreed that, as the issues involved were to a large degree political, this Department should have a voice in determining what directive Admiral Badger should follow in the event of a Communist assault on Tsingtao.

My views are as follows:

I note that in the four alternative courses of action which Admiral Badger places before the JCS, he concluded that course b is utterly impractical from a military and political point of view. I concur. The JCS directed Admiral Badger to follow course a. If Admiral Badger were to follow course a, I have no confidence, given the nature of Chinese military tradition and psychology, that course a, would not quickly degenerate into course b, thus placing us in an intolerable military and political position.
Fundamental in our approach to the problem of Tsingtao is the concept that basic responsibility for the defense of that area rests with the Chinese Government.
Therefore I suggest that, accompanied by Minister-Counselor Clark and General Barr,28 Admiral Badger should immediately seek an interview with the Generalissimo. He should give the Generalissimo his estimate of the situation in the Tsingtao area and express his conviction that Tsingtao and its environs are now inadequately defended. Admiral Badger should ask the Generalissimo whether he intends to hold Tsingtao. If the Generalissimo does not, the Admiral’s future course should be clear and he should immediately institute an orderly withdrawal. If the Generalissimo does intend to defend the Tsingtao area, Admiral Badger should state that it will then be essential for the Generalissimo promptly to reinforce his garrison with troops to the extent necessary to insure Tsingtao’s safety. If you and the JCS agree, the Admiral might add that the Generalissimo would not find him unwilling to offer assistance in terms of military [Page 317] supplies to the extent practicable. In closing, Admiral Badger should request the Generalissimo to make it unmistakably clear to his Commanding Officer at Tsingtao that that officer has the sole responsibility for the defense of the Tsingtao area.
On his return to Tsingtao, Admiral Badger should personally inform the Commanding Officer that the defense of the Tsingtao area is the sole responsibility of the Chinese forces stationed there.
If at any time the Communist forces advance on Tsingtao in such a manner that, in Admiral Badger’s judgment, they intend to attack in force, the Admiral should proceed in an orderly manner to evacuate dependents and withdraw from exposed positions, such as the airfield and the ammunition dump. He should avoid participation in hostilities between the Nationalist and Communist forces. If it becomes evident that the Nationalist forces are unable to discharge successfully their responsibility for the defense of the Tsingtao area, all American personnel should be withdrawn. It should be Admiral Badger’s responsibility to have available sufficient ships for such an emergency evacuation. He should continue to be firm and vigilant in the protection of American lives, and any active military operations which might have to be resorted to should be limited to the fulfillment of this responsibility.
With the foregoing in mind, Admiral Badger may wish to reexamine the desirability of reducing the number of dependents in the Tsingtao area.

I suggest that the JCS replace its instructions of May 12 with an appropriate directive to Admiral Badger along the lines of the preceding numbered paragraphs. This directive should serve as interim orders pending formulation of policy on this question by the NSC.

Faithfully yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Robert A. Lovett
  1. Maj. Gen. David G. Barr, Chief, Army Advisory Group (AAG) in China.