Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. R. B. Stewart of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs

Participants: Mr. Tswen-ling Tsui, First Secretary, Chinese Embassy
Mr. Troy Perkins, FE19
Mr. Kenneth Landon, FE
Mr. Robert B. Stewart, BC

Mr. Tsui called at the Department this afternoon to request information on the attitude of the American Government toward the Australian–New Zealand Agreement. He stated that the Chinese Government had not yet formulated its attitude toward the agreement and that the Chinese Foreign Minister wished first to know the views of the American Government.

Officers of the Department present informed Mr. Tsui of the attitude of this Government substantially as outlined in the Secretary’s message to Prime Ministers Curtin and Fraser—omitting, however, any reference to the possibility, mentioned in the Secretary’s message, that a Southwest Pacific Conference at this time “might well arouse suspicions and possibly bring into focus conflicting opinions on matters which do not require decision at this time.” Mr. Tsui was also informed [Page 183] that the views of this Government have been formally communicated to the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

Mr. Tsui was informed that frankly we do not take the Australian–New Zealand Agreement too seriously, that we regard it as without effect upon our interests, that it probably reflects in a large measure the desire of Australia and New Zealand as small countries to participate in all major international decisions on a plane of equality with the Great Powers. It was added that the Agreement is also in part a public statement of policies which Australia and New Zealand expect to follow. For example, one of the subjects dealt with is international aviation. We have not expressed any views to Australia and New Zealand regarding this portion of the agreement. We might not agree with the attitude which they take and might believe it not to be in their own best interests, but we recognize it merely as a statement of views which these Governments say that they will press when this matter becomes the subject of international discussion.

Mr. Tsui said that in general his Government felt that problems of the kind covered by the agreement should be left for settlement at the Peace Conference. He cited the recent agreement between Czechoslovakia and Russia,20 and said this seemed to them to be going in the wrong direction and that, from what he could gather from the American press, this Government was not too pleased with attempts to settle matters before winning the war. Mr. Tsui was informed that with regard to the proposal of Australia and New Zealand to call a conference, this Government does take the attitude that this matter should be postponed until the war in the Pacific has reached a later stage.

Mr. Tsui stated that they wondered what territories were intended to be covered by the Australia–New Zealand agreement. It was stated in reply that while we have no information on this point and could only guess, it seemed that insofar as the idea of establishing a security zone is concerned, the Australians and New Zealanders are probably thinking in terms of islands south of the equator.

Mr. Tsui mentioned the particular interest of his government in the Japanese Mandated territories and the provision of the Australian and New Zealand governments stating that the disposal of these islands should be effected only with Australian and New Zealand agreement. He also referred to the reference in the agreement to the location of international machinery dealing with the Far Eastern area. (Article 12 reads as follows: “The two Governments will collaborate generally with regard to the location of machinery set up under [Page 184] international organization such as the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and in particular with regard to the location of the Far Eastern Committee of that Administration”.) Mr. Tsui said that his Government was of course interested in this, that the Australian–New Zealand Agreement apparently is in conflict with the provisions of the UNRRA agreement,21 and that their view is that the agreement of 44 nations would naturally override the agreement of two nations. The specific manner in which the Australian–New Zealand Agreement is believed to conflict with the UNRRA Agreement was not made clear. It was evident, however, that Chinese Government is interested in having UNRRA machinery set up in China rather than in Australia and New Zealand.

It was observed by officers of the Department that China is not listed among the Powers which Australia and New Zealand propose to invite to a conference on the South and Southwest Pacific and that it was presumed that this was owing to the fact that Australia and New Zealand proposed to confine the conference to Powers with territorial interests in that area. Mr. Tsui commented that while his Government did not have any territory in this Southwest Pacific area, it would not like to be excluded from a conference of this kind. He pointed out that China has literally millions of “overseas nationals” scattered through these areas—in Dutch East Indies and even in New Georgia and the Solomons. He felt that his Government does have interests in the area and would wish to be represented.

  1. Office of Far Eastern Affairs.
  2. Treaty of Friendship, Mutual Assistance, and Post-war Collaboration, with Protocol, signed at Moscow December 12, 1943, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxlv, p. 238.
  3. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Agreement between the United States and Other Governments or Authorities, signed at Washington November 9, 1943; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 352, or 57 Stat. (pt. 2) 1164.