293.1111/12–1453: Telegram

No. 160
The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Butterworth) to the Department of State


2602. ReDeptel 2790, November 24.1 Foreign Office comments as follows on desirability make further ref at UN re American civilians under detention Communist China:


Ref in UN not likely in present circumstances benefit detainees. Fear most probably result publicity this sort would be drive ChiComs to make public rebuttal infolding statement of “guilt” of detainees. Once ChiComs take public stand, they might find it more difficult withdraw and net result would be detrimental to individuals concerned.

Fact is, Americans who have suffered various period imprisonment and house arrest are gradually coming out. Records show nine of these out since April from total of about 40. No evidence this trickle of expulsions has dried up and it would be grave matter jeopardize possible release of remainder by wide publicity. If expulsions cease, whole matter would then need reconsideration.

Case of pseudonyms (Deptel 2965 December 4):2 In cases where all information from confidential sources, very doubtful this [Page 343] tactic would afford proper protection either to prisoners or to their friends in China. View comparatively small number detained, feel ChiCom authorities would have little difficulty piercing pseudonym. From viewpoint of British official organizations on Communist China, Foreign Office averse use of pseudonyms where ChiCom authorities would have good reason suppose information given in publicity reached US via British official organs in China. Foregoing covers all Americans now detained either Peiping or Shanghai; Foreign Office hopes Department will consult UK before authorizing public reference to these cases.…
Foreign Office hopes that if Department proceeds with proposal, Foreign Office will have “fair warning” to enable consultation with Trevelyan, British Chargé Peiping, who would then be requested for his views on timing and asking whether action would harm any proposed approach in Peiping.

Foreign Office has not raised problem with Trevelyan at this time as recent letter from him contains comments on publicity problem which have been incorporated in above.

  1. Telegram 2790 to London, Nov. 24, stated that the Department was considering raising the subject of the U.S. civilians under detention in China at the United Nations and invited the opinion of the British Foreign Office on the advisability of such action. (293.1111/11–2453)
  2. Telegram 2965 to London, Dec. 4, gave further details concerning the proposed approach at the United Nations; it stated that the Department intended to refer to detained persons by pseudonyms, if necessary, to protect confidential sources of information. (293.1111/11–2553)