693.00/1–2549: Telegram

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

213. New Director American Department Foreign Office15 tells us Foreign Office moving immediate and almost in its entirety to Canton. American Department will be closed in Nanking tomorrow and director leaves day following for Canton. After tomorrow only Foreign Office officials left Nanking will be Minister, two vice ministers and their secretaries. Dr. Chen added that same situation obtains in other [Page 662] ministries Nanking. Military and Air Attachés confirmed this re Minister National Defense16 and Hu Shih17 gives similar confirmation Education Ministry. Nanking is in fact assuming aspect dead city. Government meets this afternoon establish date Foreign Office and Government will begin functioning Canton. It seems obvious all Government personnel except very top few in each ministry is departing immediately. Hu Shih says those remaining can be removed two ministries per plane.

Lapham18 called on Acting President this morning re China aid problems. During conversation Li Tsung-jen told him he would not surrender to Communists; that if he could not negotiate reasonable settlement he would move southwest with Government and continue resistance. He had come on scene too late to prevent Communist crossing Yangtze River.

Troops are now passing through Nanking for south, indication being destination Fukien area. Best information is there will be no defense Nanking; that pattern of Peiping may be repeated; and that if efforts to negotiate settlement fail, Communists can take Nanking with little effort. Upon breakdown peace negotiations or when Nanking falls, whichever comes first, we may expect hurried removal remaining government personnel southward.

Either Li Tsung-jen will continue to carry on in Canton or Kweilin, or Generalissimo19 will reappear upon scene, resuming his functions as President and Commander in Chief, using Canton as seat of Government and possibly Foochow as military headquarters.

In light of above and of Communists’ imminent arrival north bank Yangtze from whence they can interdict use all Nanking air fields, it seems to us feasibility evacuation portion of Embassy to provisional capital is daily lessened. If, as we assume, it is US policy to support any legitimate national government which will continue to resist Communist encroachment militarily, or Communist-domination politically, time has come, we believe, for prompt action to assure US diplomatic representation Canton, at least along lines suggested our 187, January 22. Foreign Office tells us we will have tomorrow formal written request removal Canton, giving us date Government will begin functioning there. Upon receipt note we will immediately report further. However, if Embassy contingent has not left Nanking by Thursday or Friday of this week, departure may be impossible through Communist interdiction use air fields.

Stuart
  1. Chen Tai-chu.
  2. General Ho Ting-chin.
  3. Chinese Minister of Education; former Chinese Ambassador to the United States
  4. Roger D. Lapham, Chief of the China Mission of the Economic Cooperation Administration.
  5. Chiang Kai-shek.