393.1115/2–1648: Telegram

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

305. We wish to offer the following comment on ComNavWesPac’s11 operational plan No: 105–47 (China general emergency)12 ref erred to in Deptel 176 of February 4, 6 p.m.13 Ancillary to this plan is ComNavWesPac’s plan No. 104–47 (China local emergency)12 which we feel should also be subject for consideration by SANACC.14

These plans were the subject of informal conference in the Embassy executive office February 13 with officers of ComNavWesPac’s staff. At that time the Embassy representative pointed out that it was our thought that plans of this nature, either local or general, should clearly tfecognize that the Ambassador as ranking representative of the US in China is charged with the Responsibility” for determining when conditions exist requiring concentration or evacuation, together with the attendant necessary protective; measures, of American nationals and that likewise he is charged with the responsibility of determining when such conditions have ceased to exist. It was pointed out at this conference that it was not within our province to undertake the revisión of purely military aspects of the plans under discussion, but we were convinced that in forthright expression of the principle of ambassadorial responsibility would be essential to the approval of any such plan by this Embassy and that we were so informing the Department of State and requesting instructions.

The Department will note that both plans are based on the assumption of a development of conditions in China, locally or generally, in which civil disorder would take a specific anti-American trend thus endangering American lives and property. While we believe sporadic localized civil unrest to be a probable development, for which adequate concentration or evacuation plans should be prepared, we visualize only as a remote possibility that this unrest would develop without warning throughout China or assume a specific and general anti-American character. The Department will, of course, appreciate the effect upon the position of the government if any premature declaration of an emergency, either local or general, was to take place. Furthermore, the presence of American forces in China having the obvious mission of protecting American nationals and American property would tend to aggravate and inflame any latent anti-American feeling which might exist.

[Page 814]

Both plans assume that American military force will be used to protect American lives and property in event these appear to be, or are, menaced by civil unrest or disorders. We are reluctant to accept this assumption inasmuch as we consider it to be a matter for policy decision by the Department. In the past, under the extraterritorial system we accepted certain obligations to afford this protection as having full or quasi-legal character and have so acted in certain cases. Even in the extraterritorial period, however, we informed Chinese Government of its obligation to protect American lives and property. With end extraterritoriality, primary legal obligation has passed [to] Chinese Government and our obligation arises only when confronted with obvious inability of Chinese Government to meet its responsibilities. In such circumstances, any action planned by us for protection our nationals and property must, where the question arises in practical form, be considered within the larger framework of overall policy requirements. The implications of using military force for police purposes on territory of friendly sovereign state and, possible consequences of so doing, particularly in Ohhia at this time, need no amplification.

With regard to purely military details of the plans under consideration, we have confidence in the competence of ComNavWesPac planners. However, it seems to us that the plans lack clarity and precision in those sections which deal with steps to be taken to bring into play increasing amounts of force to meet increasingly serious situations. We feel that considerable danger exists that the premature implementation of a plan to meet a minor situation might result in aggravating conditions which we should seek to avert. In other words, we are convinced that any inherent prejudice in favor of the use of force should be avoided as being contrary to the best interests of all concerned and we, therefore, consider that in all cases the Ambassador or consular officer to whom this overall responsibility may be specifically delegated will be better able to judge whether force is required in any given circumstance and thus avoid the taking of steps to apply force in excess of the requirements of a specific situation.

With regard to ComNavWesPac’s general emergency plan, we wish to point out that this involves a military effort of considerable proportions and presupposes [its commission] to action in cooperation with Chinese Government forces for the maintenance of law and order. We feel that such action would involve us in the current civil war to such an extent that the disengagement of our forces would rapidly become tactically and politically impossible.

Inasmuch as we may be requested to engage in other conferences with representatives of the armed services in China on this subject, [Page 815] we would appreciate the Department’s preliminary comment on the foregoing and any additional information on the discussion of these plans in Washington which the Department may undertake to supply us.

  1. Commander Naval Forces, Western Pacific.
  2. Not found in Department files.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not found in Department files.
  5. State-Army-Navy-Air Force Coordinating Committee.