611.46G/6–2252: Telegram

No. 33
The Consul General at Hong Kong (McConaughy) to the Department of State 1

top secret

3332. Re ConGen tel 3330, June 21, rptd London 180.2

[Page 71]

In course of same farewell conversation Governor said he wished express on eve of my departure from Hong Kong his deep appreciation of sympathetic understanding consistently shown by ConGen during my tenure of Hong Kong Govt position and of efforts I had made to reduce frictions to a minimum while pointing out arguments for taking firmer stand by Hong Kong Govt against Commie China. He said that while inevitably there had been difficulties and momentary irritations, especially fol imposition our trade and financial measures against Commie China in Dec 1950, way had been subsequently smoothed so that he felt at moment there were no difficulties between us worthy of mention.

We reviewed main events of mutual concern to us during my nineteen months tenure, including economic and financial restrictions of Dec 1950; evacuation advice to American dependents Jan 1951; perfection our emergency evacuation plans and establishment of arrangements for continued presence US naval transport here, Feb 1951; seizure of Chinese Commie tanker Yung Hao April 1951; imposition of sweeping Hong Kong export controls against Commie China June 1951; trial of CAT plane cases; gradual improvement US export licensing treatment Hong Kong latter half 1951; return American dependents Oct and Nov 1951; more intimate exchange of military info between our service attaches and British forces fol arrival new and more cooperative British Commander in Chief General Airey late 1951; Kowloon riot of Mar 1952; and subsequent American assistance in rushing tear gas replenishments to Hong Kong police; growing cooperation of Hong Kong Govt economic depts in supply of foreign trade, shipping and labor info and statistics recent months fol adjustment of misunderstanding which followed inadvertent release in US May 1951, of confidential Hong Kong Govt data incident to MacArthur hearings; and gradual hardening Hong Kong Govt position toward Commie China as typified by deportation Commie agitators, and indictment pro-Commie papers for sedition. Governor said as of now he is completely satisfied [Page 72] with operations US Govt agencies here, civil, military and CAS.

He has confidence no indiscreet action which wld seriously embarrass Hong Kong Govt wld be permitted by me. Said he had feeling while naturally together [neither?] he nor I cld always meet wishes of other 100 percent, we each cld and had accommodated the other whenever vital request had been made on either side. He said this was the way he wanted it, and he hoped it wld continue same way with my successor.

Governor said he had concurred in most critical decisions I have made which he knew of, including decision to recommend evacuation American dependents early in 1951. He said top secret info available to him at that time, and which he presumed was available to me, confirmed gravity Far Eastern situation Jan 1951, and made evacuation (particularly in absence US naval transportation arrangements) only prudent course.

I expressed gratitude to Governor for his cooperation. Said I had never doubted we were basically on same side and said I thought course of Hong Kong Govt and our own were only slightly divergent now, whereas they had been far apart in late 1950. I singled out Hong Kong Govt imposition export controls on Commie China June 1951 as most important single event that occurred during my time here. I considered several courtesy visits Admiral Radford and other top US commanders to Hong Kong as evidence of our friendly interest in Hong Kong’s capability defend itself, and said I felt American interest in Hong Kong had grown as greatly in past one and one-half years as had Hong Kong Govt’s desire to align itself more solidly with US against Chinese Communist threat.

  1. Repeated to London.
  2. This telegram reported that during a farewell conversation between McConaughy and Sir Alexander Grantham, Governor of Hong Kong, Grantham had assured McConaughy that certain aircraft, which were involved in litigation by Civil Air Transport, Inc., an American corporation, and which had been impounded pending the disposition of the case, would not be permitted to leave Hong Kong for mainland China, regardless of the outcome of the case. (993.52/6–2152) The aircraft, along with other property in Hong Kong, had been acquired by Civil Air Transport, Inc., from the Chinese National Government in December 1949, but Hong Kong courts had ruled that their ownership had passed to the Chinese People’s Government on Oct. 1, 1949. The case was at this time under appeal to the British Privy Council, which ruled in favor of Civil Air Transport, Inc., on July 28, 1952. For additional information concerning the case, see Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. 2 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1963), pp. 741–743 and 778–780.

    Documentation concerning U.S. interest in the outcome of the case and concern that the planes should not be permitted to fall into the hands of the Chinese Communists is in files 993.52 and 711.5846G.