The Consul at Tsingtao (Strong) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:46 p.m.]
234. Badger called me to flagship forenoon December 21 discuss estimate and recommendations in preparation submission reference maintenance forces here. Told me felt obliged get my opinion view political, economic factors so important. Said Tsingtao had been expected center for evacuation but that phase over; as base, no longer secure; as position vis-à-vis Soviets, no legal standing whereas Soviets occupy Park Hurdairne [Port Arthur-Dairen] legal; to hold China desirable but can’t be maintained by force; few months ago North and Central China in dispute due low defective military equipment, [North?] broken off back with fatal effect Central China, thus considers China a political-economic problem, not military.
He now felt effect, under Communist occupation, on Embassy, Consulate Generals, private Americans of shooting with Communists 2 months ago; such event might have stiffened Nationalists. Approved persistent Department stand is [against?] involvement civil war, feels only hold on Communists now economic.
I have read estimate which states four alternatives:
- Maintain present forces ashore;
- Maintain present force Tsingtao partly ashore, partly afloat; all logistics waterborne;
- Withdraw completely now;
- Maintain one battalion landing team 1250 men ashore police purposes, support from ships, send remainder Marines Guam or Okinawa outload heavy weapons equipment, base combat planes carrier, most transports outside China.
Expect him recommend fourth course view waning need support Gimo Government, probable small local reaction and Department’s desire avoid incident less shipping tied up in waterborne force. Is within terms present directives and can pull out very fast.
Badger believes will be forced out soon to avoid incident which Communists will provoke. CO Marines here states joint occupation with Communists impossible. Plans officer feels strongly fourth course vacillating, all forces should be withdrawn soon.[Page 343]
In view reference local effect complete withdrawal, timing important. Necessity rely on Communists maintain order rather than police or Nationalist military point to desirable create most favorable conditions for Communists take over. Believe reduction Marines and establish completely waterborne support cause no major local reaction but would be indication to Communists to plan take over near future, would allow time outload Nationalist troops which greatest internal security threat. Communists Tsingtao presumably several thousand well-organized, probably prevent much serious looting and violence if balance Marines made sudden exodus. Believe safety at least 150 Americans depends this factor. Would seem probable Nationalist and particularly if Peiping-Tientsin lost. Serious fight between Communists and Marines might well necessitate evacuation entire Consulate General. Am attempting learn indirectly extent Communist organization and plans.
Sent Nanking 401; repeated Department 234.