On this day in 1949 China was lost. By whom? Beats us, The Nation essentially said in this editorial note two weeks later, but anyone lingering over the question recognize the new Communist government and move on. That advice would not be followed for another two decades and more.

The State Department’s reluctance to come to grips with the Chinese issue is easy to understand, but delay is not going to alter the final decision or make it any more palatable. With the Communist armies pushing fast toward Canton and the Communist national government organized and asking for recognition, the possibility of maintaining relations with Chiang on any realistic basis has evaporated. To acknowledge this in diplomatic form is of course to agree to the ousting of the Nationalist delegation from the United Nations and the admission of Mao’s representatives. It also means bringing another Communist state into the Security Council as a permanent member…We have officially admitted the corruption and incompetence of the old government. We have in effect recognized that the Communists won because of their greater capabilities and the appeal their program has made to the Chinese masses…The sooner we and the other Western powers take the plunge and recognize the new government, the better it will be both for China and for the West.

October 1, 1949

To mark The Nation’s 150th anniversary, every morning this year The Almanac will highlight something that happened that day in history and how The Nation covered it. Get The Almanac every day (or every week) by signing up to the e-mail newsletter.