Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Butterworth) to the Acting Secretary of State

Attached is a memorandum (Tab A)54 outlining developments concerning the U. S. Navy Forces at Tsingtao from May 1948 until the [Page 338] present time. It will be noted that the directive issued to Admiral Badger on June 1455 required that he evacuate Tsingtao in the event of a Communist attack but that subsequent directives in October and November have cancelled the original directive. Under his existing directive of November 6, Admiral Badger is authorized to use his forces to protect U. S. lives and property in the event of an attack by the Communists without warning and instructed to (1) inform the JCS and seek further instructions in the event of the threat of a Communist attack and (2) to place his command in a state of readiness to withdraw on short notice if ordered to do so by the JCS.

It is not believed that a Communist attack upon Tsingtao is imminent since their major forces in this general area are probably now committed to the Hsuchow-Nanking campaign. However, if this campaign results in the capture of Nanking or if strong Communist forces enter north China from Manchuria and force General Fu Tso-yi56 to withdraw from the Peiping-Tientsin area, it is believed that Admiral Badger should immediately withdraw his forces from Tsingtao. In case of either of these two eventualities, the Communists would be free to move in force against Tsingtao, which would be an island in the sea of Communist-held territory. To remain in Tsingtao under those conditions would (1) involve the risk of conflict between U. S. and Communist forces, (2) require the U. S. to assume responsibility for providing essential commodities for a city of approximately 750,000 which could easily be cut off from its hinterland by blockading forces, (3) permit the Communists to portray the U. S. as an “imperialistic foreign aggressor”, which, in view of the existing xenophobia and nationalism among the Chinese, would find a receptive audience and thus strengthen the Communist position, and (4) involve serious danger for American officials and non-official American residents in Communist-occupied areas of China, as well as jeopardize U. S. property and other interests similarly situated. To withdraw at the time of the fall of Nanking or the withdrawal of General Fu Tso-yi’s forces from the Peiping-Tientsin area would be less harmful to U. S. prestige than to await an imminent Communist attack and be driven out.

The only apparent advantage from retention of the U. S. position at Tsingtao under these circumstances would be the possession of this base as a counter to the Soviet position at Port Arthur. The political and psychological disadvantages to the U. S. are, however, so great that they would override all but the most vital and urgent strategic considerations.

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It is recommended, therefore, that a paper be prepared for presentation to the National Security Council setting forth the foregoing considerations and recommending that the JCS direct Admiral Badger to evacuate his forces from Tsingtao under either of the two eventualities described above and to report for the information of the concerned U. S. Government agencies any action which he has taken pursuant to his current directive, particularly with respect to undertakings he may have assumed for the defense of any portion of the Tsingtao area.

  1. Not printed; it presented information which is contained in other documents here printed.
  2. Apparently the message for the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces, Western Pacific, p. 320.
  3. Commander in Chief of North China Bandit Suppression Headquarters.