125.267/8–549: Telegram

The Chargé in China (Clark) to the Secretary of State

Cantel 883. Shall of course discuss with Rankin on arrival17 question possible closing ConGen Canton, telCan 510, July 29. Discussed whole problem with Ambassador Stuart18 and Consul General Cabot19 in Okinawa. They having experienced living under Communist regime feel more strongly on subject than I who have not suffered that experience. Both Dr. Stuart and Cabot feel that to leave any official personnel in Communist territory is to court insult and to weaken our hand in dealing with Communists. Their experience indicates complete inability of Consular officials perform their functions. To leave them at mercy unfriendly Communist regime is to incur personal danger needlessly. Accordingly they recommend closing all Consular offices in China with possible exception Nanking, Peiping. On Shanghai, gather they are undecided. Possibly our best policy would be to leave nucleus of “expendables” staffing skeleton offices at Peiping, Shanghai. South China could be handled from Hong Kong. I gather that there has grown out of experience in Communist China an increasing realization that it will be impossible to “do business” with Communists on any other than intolerable terms; that the Communists are determined to eliminate American interests and institutions from China when to do so suits their purposes; that no friendly approach on our part will change pattern of events and that as a result our best interests dictate that we treat any forthcoming Communist regime at arm’s length and demand fullest compliance with international obligations [Page 1309] before even considering recognition. Under these assumptions I agree with the Ambassador and Cabot that we should consider well before letting another fully staffed Consular office be “liberated” and that we should take such measures as are available to us to reduce to a minimum or close those offices already “liberated”.

If our policy will be directed toward hampering Communist successes in China rather than assisting any government which may be established, probably Ave would be wise to “clear the decks for action” and remove, to the extent possible, all potential hostages from Communist territory and if that is to be our policy, I suggest advising mission bodies as well as business and professional groups that we plan withdraw official personnel and suggesting that they withdraw their personnel from China to the extent feasible. Communists may of course place many obstacles in way departure from China such people and some businessmen may be financially unable meet Communist demands re exit visas. On the other hand, they may welcome the move. No further Consular offices should be allowed to [be] “liberated”, and should international repatriation vessel be arranged, we should withdraw all Consular and diplomatic personnel from Communist-occupied areas. Such action would of course be treated by Communists as indication our policy and their reaction might be violent. On other hand, however, they have minced no words in letting us know we are unwelcome in China.

Above recommendations are made in light considered opinions best-informed people with whom I have had contact, which tend confirm forecast developments outlined Cantel 829, July 27.20

  1. Mr. Rankin arrived in Canton on August 6 and assumed charge as Consul General on August 8.
  2. J. Leighton Stuart, who left Nanking on August 2 for the United States.
  3. John M. Cabot, Consul General at Shanghai, who accompanied the Ambassador to the United States.
  4. Ante, p. 459.