20 JANUARY 1950, Page 1

Reactions -in Peking

The seizure by the Chinese Communists of American consular premises in Peking has been followed by an announcement in Washington that all United States consular representatives are to be withdrawn from " liberated " China. This was probably a wise decision, since the few consuls who are still at their posts are hostages to fortune; virtually cut off from communication with the State Department and liable at any moment to be ostentatiously victimised for political reasons. Although both French and Dutch property in the Communist capital has also been unwarrantably interfered with, and although Chinese nationalism in its most emotional form is easily aroused by anything to do with the Legation Quarter, where the barracks of the foreign garrisons, though empty, still symbolise the " unequal treaties " imposed on

China after the Boxer Rebellion, it is safe to assume that this latest anti-American denzarche is a by-product of Mao Tse-tung's protracted negotiations in Moscow. Whether designed as a demon- stration of the Communists' sincerity or of their power, it may well prove typical of the sort of way in which Moscow's direct influence on Peking•will manifest itself ; for it is an action which involves the Chinese in neither risk nor expense, which attracts attention and which they might well have taken to please themselves alone.