265 Officer to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 221 NANKING, 9 September 1949, 7.54 p.m.


My telegram 168 [1] and immediately preceding 220 [2] and paragraph 7 of my despatch 19. [3]

2. It seems probable in the near future that (a) Canton will be occupied by the Communist forces and fugitive Nationalist Government set up at Chungking.

(b) The provincial Communist Government will be at Peking, and (c) Soviet and probably Polish and Czecho-Slovak Governments at once will grant recognition to the new Government.

3. By the end of the month in addition, the United States Ambassador, Canadian, Siamese, Brazilian and Argentine Ambassadors will have left and the French and Netherlands Ambassadors will be on the point of leaving. The United Kingdom Ambassador has instructions to leave just before the formation of the new Government and the Indian, Egyptian and Italian Ambassadors and Portuguese Minister will almost certainly do the same. I assume that you will wish me to take similar action.

4. Such withdrawal appears to be necessary unless we intend to give immediate recognition to the new Government. This involves, I understand, problems regarding China's seat on the Security Council as well as the withdrawal of de jure recognition from the Nationalist Government. To remain here would be to be in embarrassing position outwardly in territory of the Government to which we had not extended recognition. We would not be at the capital of the new Government and it is almost certain that we would not be permitted to go to the new capital prior to recognition. We would not be in a position to have even informal relations and might find our activities closely confined and even be asked to leave with consequent embarrassment to our Government.

5. I suggest, therefore, that as soon as Canton is occupied you announce that I am being either withdrawn for consultation or permitted to take leave, at the same time repeating your statement of June 21st as to future relations with the new Government. [4] I would then arrange to go to Japan or Hong Kong from where I could make a short visit to Australia if you approve and then return to watch the situation in China from close at hand.

6. It would be for the person left in charge of the Embassy to advise formal recognition when the time came when he would become Charge d'Affairs and presumably ask for facilities to move the Embassy to Peking if that was the new capital. He would ask in due course for Agreement for the new Ambassador.

1 Document 260.

2 Dispatched 9 September, Officer reported that it was 'becoming increasingly difficult to secure information in Nanking, which is no longer a political, military or economic centre but only a provincial city' and that 'there are indications that the opening of the Peoples Consultative Council at Peiping my be close'.

3 Paragraph 7 summarised the position of mid-June 1949: '(a) the publicly stated attitude of the Communists; is that they are not interested in diplomatic relations with foreign powers at present, that it is they who will decide whether and if so when they wish to establish such relations, and finally, that it is they who will lay down the conditions. (b) They have deliberately refused to recognise the inernationally accepted sums of the Diplomatic Corps in Nanking. In so far as is known this has never happened before in any ostensibly civilised state. (c) The restrictions which they are imposing on foreign missions make it practically impossible for them to do their work properly.' Officer added that he and other British Commonwealth Ambassadors felt that they 'should persevere a little longer in the hope that the visits we propose to pay to Shanghai may afford a chance of making contacts, or that the attitude here [Nanking] may change. If at the end of, say, another four weeks, the situation is just as hopeless we will advise probably that we be recalled for "consultation" or "leave"

and should arrange to leave quietly when it seems most conventient'.

4 Evatts's policy statement to the House of Representatives on 21 June 1949 argued for the continuance of Australian-Sino commercial relations.

[AA:A1838/2, 490/1, iii]