893.01/5–1349: Telegram

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

1019. After reviewing of problem of status of Embassies and Consulates in face of Nationalist Government approaching defeat and possible extinction, plus intransigent attitude Communists on recognition as matter absolute reciprocity, Embassy’s views developing as [Page 744] follows: (see Embtel 979, May 10, repeated Canton 389, Shanghai 54237).

So long as Nationalist Government exists and is recognized by US, diplomatic status all FS38 personnel China remains unchanged. Such status created by agreement US and Nationalist Governments, cannot be destroyed piecemeal and is unaffected by Communist current military successes. Continued residence our Ambassadors Brussels 1914–191739 provides analogy if needed.
Until Nationalist Government obviously extinct, our approaches to Communists should be limited to inquiries, protests regarding welfare, property Americans.
After extinction Nationalist Government our status analogous diplomatic personnel in country from which US has withdrawn recognition. Status continues until reasonable time for departure has elapsed after unequivocal notice to depart received from new authorities.
In period following extinction Nationalist Government we may, on Department’s authorization, confer informally with Communists on general matters, and endeavor ascertain whether de facto government exists. We assume that by this time Communists will have announced provisional government, called constituent assembly and organized foreign office. Any act our part implying recognition to be avoided.
If existence de facto government is ascertained, Embassy will report same to Department and if requested suggest stipulations regarded desirable as conditions to de jure recognition, e.g., protection American lives and interests, treaty obligations, etc.
Embassy feels Communist attitude regarding absolute and immediate reciprocity on question recognition typically Communist position adopted either for propaganda purposes or on theory foreign embassies and consulates perform no important function benefiting Chinese interests. Communists apparently unaware these offices are existing agencies best suited to determine facts regarding existence de facto Communist government and desirability recognition. Meanwhile Communists seem to regard toleration of foreign diplomatic personnel as yielding of hard-won sovereignty which ought not to be sacrificed without immediate counter-concessions. They appear to consider continued presence diplomatic offices places their regime in inferior position and are apparently unaware diplomatic inferiority their position exists in any case from moment new government is formed until it receives general recognition.
Embassy believes that if Communists are convinced diplomatic and consular personnel chiefly engaged political, commercial, espionage and propaganda, Communist attitude regarding reciprocity likely to continue. Some evidence accumulating, however, that attitude towards embassies based also on embarrassment their presence and uncertainty regarding procedure.
There have been recent indications that Nanking may be retained as capital under Communist regime and we believe good possibility new government will establish itself here following PCC. (ReCantel 337, May 9 to Department, repeated Nanking 259, Shanghai 217.) Consequently we feel office of Embassy should be retained Nanking after departure of Ambassador until assured capital will not be Nanking or until Communists ask us to leave. Even if government establishes itself permanently elsewhere, there is ample precedent for office of Embassy remaining ex-capital until move to new capital can conveniently be made.

Sent Department, repeated OffEmb Canton 412, Shanghai 570.

  1. Vol. ix, p. 19.
  2. Foreign Service.
  3. For documentation on continued residence of the American Minister in Brussels after German occupation, see Foreign Relations, 1914, Supplement, The World War, pp. 4547, 49, 65, 67, 69, 7374, 76.