740.0011 Pacific War/3630

The Delegate of the French Committee of National Liberation (Hoppenot) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

No. 759

Dear Mr. Berle: I have already had occasion to speak to you of the interest which the French Committee of National Liberation would attach to being associated in the inter-Allied deliberations concerning the conduct of the war in the Far East, particularly when it is a matter of operations which may involve Indochina. I refer particularly to the aide-mémoire which I transmitted to you on this subject October 21, and which contemplated on the one hand the entrance of a representative of the Committee into the Pacific Council, and on the other hand the apprehensions caused at Algiers by a proposed Chinese offensive against the frontier of Indochina.

M. Massigli has just requested me to recall this question again to your high attention.

The cooperation of the French staff with the Allied staffs in the Far East has as a matter of fact entered into a new phase following the sending to Delhi, with the accord of the British War Office, of a French military mission commanded by General Blaizot. This new fact seems to make it more desirable that a parallel collaboration should be established at Washington, by the association of a French representative in the deliberations of the Pacific Council of which delegates of all the Powers participating in the war effort against Japan are members.

We have learned, moreover, that the proposed Chinese operations on the frontier of Indochina have not been abandoned and that irregular Chinese troops, staffed by American officers, are said to be trained at the present time for this purpose near the said frontier. The Chinese elements in question are precisely the ones whose incursions and pillaging have frequently created, in the course of recent decades, a state of insecurity and trouble in that region, and their reappearance on Indochinese territory, even with the corrective of a staff of American officers, would aggravate further the repercussions of any Chinese action on those frontiers. Knowing personally the mentality both of the French of Indochina and of the native populations of the Union, [Page 888] I am convinced that nothing could more seriously hinder their cooperation with the Allies than for the liberation of Indochina to appear to be entrusted, even provisionally, to Chinese formations which, in the present case, would appear to them not only as the advance guard of the hereditary enemy of Annam and Tonkin, but as the direct descendants of the bands of pirates and Jolly Rogers who have so long caused the threat of their exactions to weigh upon those regions. Just as American or English troops would be welcomed as allies and liberators, so we run the risk of seeing French and natives react strongly against the use of these Chinese elements. I do not believe that a more serious political and psychological fault could be committed and I take the liberty to beg you to call this point again to the very serious attention of the competent authorities.8

Please accept [etc.]

Henri Hoppenot
  1. On January 5, 1944, Mr. Berle wrote M. Hoppenot that the contents of his letter had been transmitted to appropriate authorities of the Government.