393.1115/5–2048: Telegram

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

911. With particular reference present situation North China, we believe as general policy women, children and nonessential persons should be evacuated from places likely to be occupied or isolated by Communists and that such evacuation should take place insofar as possible by normal commercial transport in advance of such time as emergency evacuation might become necessary. While it is possible Americans might suffer no serious difficulties under Communist occupation or isolation, yet danger of injuries incidental to battle, possible discrimination against or actual maltreatment of Americans by Communists and probable [hardships of isolation convince us that every effort should be]39 made to induce persons in above categories to leave danger points while still possible.

There are some indications that impending Communist offensive might by-pass Mukden and strike at Chinchow or even at points within Great Wall, thus posing serious threat to Peiping and Tientsin, and there is little evidence of effective Nationalist preparations to help [stop?] such an attack. Nanking political developments in past few weeks, as, for example, appointment Ku Chu-tung as chief of staff, do not increase our confidence that Government is willing and able adopt positive measures necessary for protection North China.

We have therefore concluded that general warning should be issued immediately to American women, children and nonessential persons in Peiping and Tientsin to leave those cities while commercial transportation still available. There are 636 Americans in Peiping and 200 Americans and alien dependents in Tientsin. More than half total number are women and children. Under present conditions shortage of transportation from Tientsin likely to delay actual departure for [Page 830] considerable time after warning issued. Since recommendation to resident Americans to evacuate their dependents not likely to be fully effective unless Consular personnel do likewise, we propose to urge local officer to make necessary recommendation to this effect, accordance Deptel 697, May 7,40 placing final responsibility on local officer. This situation illustrates awkwardness of dividing authority by vesting in Ambassador responsibility for determining when conditions warrant evacuation of Americans but leaving to local officer decision as to when his own staff and their dependents should withdraw (Embtel 849, May 1141). We intend to instruct Consulates to issue warning in manner so as to avoid causing undue alarm, and anticipate giving advance notice to Foreign Office. We would appreciate receiving soonest views of concerned officers and Department regarding issuance evacuation warning.

In order facilitate evacuation, Embassy is sending to Shanghai copies Tientsin’s despatch 32, March 30 and letter May 1142 requesting steamship companies approached regarding possibility augmenting passenger service from Tientsin. We recommend no additional officers with families be assigned Peiping or Tientsin, unless willing to leave families behind, and would appreciate early reply to Embtel 813, May 5 requesting authority to order transportation families and effects to US. Consideration should also be given to removal of Peiping [Foreign Service] language school to place of relative safety. Nanking immediately suggests itself as most suitable from viewpoints of accessibility and language, but transfer school here would create serious housing problem.

Sent Department 911, repeated Peiping 109, Tientsin 88, Mukden 95, Shanghai 403.

  1. Bracketed insertion on basis of Embassy file copy of telegram.
  2. Vol. vii, p. 815.
  3. Ibid., p. 817.
  4. Neither printed.