893.01/1–1549: Telegram

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

117. Government preparations to move from Nanking have become increasingly apparent during week. Despite difficulty concealment move this magnitude, Government’s decision still shrouded in secrecy. Consequently, reports are in detail conflicting. They, however, indicate implementation in initial stages evacuation of Government to points south in face of increasing military threat to Nanking. Places most generally mentioned are Canton area and Taiwan.

Foreign Office admitted in confidence Vice Ministers met January 11 to discuss plans for evacuation archives of various Ministries and tentative plans, requiring Cabinet approval, for removal of Ministries themselves from Nanking in event extreme emergency. No attempt to conceal packing of archives in Foreign Office though official insisted he did not yet know their destination and denied any final decision taken re movement personnel.

Other sources indicate all Ministries ordered to pack their archives for delivery to Ministry of Communications this week for shipment south. Re personnel, one reliable source reports recent order 80 percent of Government personnel must choose to resign and receive 3 months’ salary or be evacuated from Nanking. Remaining 20 percent, regarded key personnel, will remain Nanking and be airlifted out at last minute. Source continued that in general, administrative sections of Government including banks are being moved to Canton or points along railways en route. Air Force, Navy and ground troops in training are being moved to Taiwan, he continued, where Government’s gold and silver reserves now are Legislative Yuan is not now in session, its members are scattered and not scheduled to meet again until early February although some individual members have appeared Taiwan.

Foregoing would apparently support two conclusions. First, if and when Communists or coalition takes over Nanking and governing [Page 653] responsibility for expanded area, its administrative difficulties will be substantial and far greater than originally anticipated as result wholesale removal archives and dispersion of experienced personnel. This estimate might well moderately reduce such incentive as exists for Communists to negotiate at this time since Nationalist negotiators would no longer be in position to offer intact administrative machinery.

Second conclusion is that odds have increased that diplomatic corps will be faced with last-minute request by Nationalist Government to evacuate with Government from Nanking. Physical problems connected with any attempt to comply greatly increased by apparent Government intention to hold only key personnel here and evacuate by air at last minute. Moreover, scattering of archives and Government personnel over South China and Taiwan make it difficult visualize how Government could be conducted. If diplomatic corps were to move in accordance with prospective request, we assume it would follow Foreign Minister2 and Foreign Office whose destination would, from present indications, be Canton.

To sum up, chances of our being asked to move have increased. While present phase of Government’s move indicates widespread dispersal of archives and personnel, it must be admitted that adoption and implementation of plan to move capital now, may give Nationalists time to establish Government in south with sufficient degree of continuing authority to warrant at least sending diplomatic representatives with it. In accordance with instructions, we will immediately report any request by Nationalist Government that we accompany it elsewhere, giving at such time relevant facts and our recommendation. Pending arrival or in absence of instructions we will remain Nanking as previously directed. General sentiment in rest of diplomatic corps seems to be still further hardening on remaining Nanking under any circumstances though many assuredly are waiting to follow our lead, whatever it may be.

  1. Wu Te-chen.