393.1115/10–1448: Telegram

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

1906. It is our understanding that only Ambassador or his designated representative has authority determine when conditions exist in China which call for implementation emergency evacuation procedures involving employment American Armed Forces to assist in evacuation. In exchange of communications with Embassy, ComNavWesPac has indicated his acceptance of this principle, and it is expressly stated in his plan 103, repeated Department under covering despatch No. 217, May 6.75 (See also top secret Embtel 305 of February 1676 and top secret Deptel 333 of March 3.77)

In recent evacuation foreign nationals Chefoo by naval vessel from ComNavWesPac Command, we were informed by Tsingtao Contel “Admiral Badger is arranging send ship to Chefoo to evacuate 42 foreign nationals”. Message further stated “Badger wants Embassy’s pro forma approval of above”. While we did not believe it desirable at that time to raise question as to whether ComNavWesPac required our definite, prior approval, for his course of action, we believe that his assumption that only our pro forma approval is required in such situations is without foundation.

At present time we can readily conceive occurrence civil disorders in larger metropolitan centers, or of rapid spread of hostilities to areas previously untroubled, both with little or no prior warning and which might call for implementation emergency evacuation plan. Since this plan as developed by ComNavWesPac, a copy of which is in hands of Department, provides for use of facilities of Armed Forces in accomplishing evacuation and provides for protection of American lives and property by force if required, it is entirely possible that in accomplishing evacuation our forces might become involved in armed clash with Chinese. In view of these circumstances, and believing that all possible precautions should be taken to avoid such clashes, [Page 851] it is our feeling that no emergency evacuation, making use of the facilities of our Armed Forces, should be effected without prior authority from the Ambassador or his expressly delegated representative. In no case would this authority be granted until there should materialize a real threat to safety of American lives.

It is our belief that the Department may desire to consider this proposition and, if approval is received, take such steps as may be necessary to have it made eminently clear to responsible American military and naval officers in China that sole authority to determine time and place for implementing emergency evacuation plans resides in Ambassador or his delegated representative.

Department’s comments and instructions regarding above are requested.

  1. Neither printed, but see telegram No. 779, April 30, noon, from the Ambassador in China, p. 823.
  2. Ante, p. 813.
  3. Ante, p. 815.