893.01/11–649: Telegram

The Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Bacon) to the Secretary of State

2378. Deptel 1204, November 2. Conferred Nuncio November 5 on pretext ascertain Holy See policy re payment house and land taxes. Riberi said had attempted induce religious orders form united front without success; indicated approval Shanghai Jesuit Superiors determination go jail rather than pay. Declared protection mission property and physical safety individual priests must be for Consuls concerned whereas his responsibility primarily survival and welfare in China Catholic Church as such. Had almost succeeded getting Nationalists give legislative sanction to Church as Chinese indigenous religious body and would have to begin again with Communists.

Does not believe recognition would significantly improve temporal relations so long as Communists continue regard religious faith as “mental infirmity”. Confirmed my understanding no letter received from Chou En-lai and said with hearty laugh he very glad of that since he could not be called on to reply. Advocated exercise great patience by both Church and US, citing Allied behavior during Berlin blockade as brilliant example resulting frustration Communist tactics. Is convinced domineering Soviets will eventually spoil own welcome [Page 175]even in CCP93 and that within few months popular feeling against Soviets and for Western nations will become evident.

Suggested that Ward incident directed by Soviets to create deeper rift between CCP and US and not maneuver to force early recognition. In his opinion, Church troubles various localities caused by attitude local Communist authorities and could not be quickly cured by recognition. Observed with composure that (1) village Communists have just closed Kichow Cathedral (Southeast Hankow), and (2) Nanking police have asked use of local chapel and on being refused said “you will regret”. Cited recent case two Peiping priests jailed 5 days for disciplining pupils and said if punishment had been 5 years as rumored would not have minded since such excesses by authorities would serve open eyes of public.

As I left he stopped me and asked with evident anxiety whether I thought British would take independent step and recognize People’s Government before other powers ready do so. Said I thought this most unlikely even if sometimes British seemed willing allow impression grow they would do so except for US restraint. Seemed reassured and renewed counsels of “patience and courage”.

Believe Riberi still feels no immediate or remote advantage be gained by allowing selves to be stampeded into hasty action and thinks profitable course is delay recognition until time when Soviet harness begins to gall CCP authorities as well as Chinese public.

  1. Chinese Communist Party