893.00/14685: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

114. Department’s 58, March 13, 6 p.m.

1. Blackburn of British Embassy called yesterday and in course of conversation stated that he had received instruction to express to Generalissimo the concern of British Government over threat to Chinese unity and war effort from rift between Nationalist Government and Chinese Communists. He said that he had been instructed to consult with this Embassy. He said that he had informed British Ambassador now in Shanghai that such representations would come better from Ambassador than from him. I informed him of substance of Department’s telegram above referred to, and stated that I did not consider that I was under instruction to make a point of this matter which after all was giving considerable concern to the government whose leaders did not need me to remind them of the effect of domestic strife on opinion in the United States and other interested countries. I said, however, that I did interpret my instructions to mean that when appropriate occasion might present itself I should make clear American concern over dissension and threats to Chinese national unity. Blackburn told me that he had seen Chou En-lai recently who said that he had seen the Generalissimo at the latter’s request and that situation had not materially improved. Chou En-lai is reported to have said that while Chiang had exhibited an attitude of friendliness and a desire to ease the tension he would not give way on points desired by the Communist Party, such as recognition of New Fourth Army, recognition of Communist Party as a legal party, release of political prisoners, et cetera.