The Ambassador in China ( Stuart ) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 20—1:04 a. m.]
146. Further conversation Foreign Office re move to Canton leaves impression government has no definite plans itself for southward movement but would like to evacuate Diplomatic Corps and see it safely established Canton before emergency move Foreign Office and other vital Ministries becomes necessary. (See Embtel 143, January 19.) We told Foreign Office official that its invitation to proceed Canton must be referred Washington; that in order for Department to give serious consideration and intelligent reply it must have certain detailed information, such as when Foreign Minister will proceed Canton, when Foreign Office will begin functioning effectively in provisional capital, when and where Executive Yuan will go, and where Prime Minister8 will take up residence. We also expressed view that future movement of Legislative Yuan would be important consideration. Of less importance but of interest would be schedule and future seat of Judicial and Control Yuans. Foreign Office official was unable to answer any of these questions, said he would try to obtain replies but expressed doubt that any decisions, particularly with respect to dates on above points, had yet been determined.
He explained government was seeking means for peaceful settlement of civil war and present move by Foreign Office vis-à-vis Diplomatic Corps was primarily “preventative” in event peace formula failed. He expressed Foreign Office concern for safety of Diplomatic Corps in face of increasing military threat to national capital. We expressed appreciation this thought but pointed out that our Government would hardly condone our moving to Canton for reasons of personal safety while leaving Nationalist Government to which we were accredited in Nanking; that obviously any decision we might [Page 658] make would be greatly influenced by Government’s schedule and movement. We will report pertinent details as they become available.
Apart from above considerations, following elements appear to us important. On the one hand this contemplated move is additional evidence that Government is disintegrating and its authority, prestige and military power diminishing by the week. Any foreign government which follows it into exile risks its relationship on any kind of workable basis with successor Nationalist Government dominated by Communists. On other hand this may be effectively balanced and more by maintaining prestige domestically and internationally of recognized Government of China which for moment at least maintains nominal authority over vast amount of Chinese territory and which continues to show every intention to resist Communism in territories under its control. More important from standpoint of free countries of world is that our continuing recognition of Nationalist Government of China, even in provisional capital in south, will assure us for that length of time a continuing friendly vote in Security Council and friendly voice in world’s international assemblies.
Our preliminary recommendations are, therefore, that:
- We do not accept government’s invitation until at least Foreign Minister and majority of Cabinet have moved to Canton.
- When this has been accomplished Minister Clark,9 with a small selected staff, immediately follows government Canton.
- At time of his departure we inform Foreign Office, and if desirable give out to press, that a portion of staff is proceeding to Canton to establish Embassy, make initial preparations for housing and working facilities, and that timing Ambassador’s movements will be reserved later consideration.
- Depending upon subsequent military and political developments decision can then be made by Department whether Ambassador with remainder of his staff (except Consulate) should proceed to Canton, if ever.
Sent Department; repeated Shanghai 76.