The Department of State to the British Embassy
The United States Government believes that the basic policies and objectives of the British and American Governments in regard to Thailand are substantially similar: both Governments favor the restoration of the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Thailand; both Governments agree that the territories acquired by Thailand from Malaya, Burma, and Indochina must be restored; neither Government has any territorial ambitions in Thailand; both Governments are apparently confident of the sincerity of Ruth’s desire to align Thailand with the Allies, to drive the Japanese out of Thailand, and to aid in the final defeat of Japan; and both Governments are in accord that it would be unwise under present conditions to recognize a Thai Government-in-exile.
There are several matters, however, on which further discussion would appear desirable in order to assure a common understanding. In view of recent military developments in Southeast Asia and of political developments within Thailand, such discussion is regarded as urgent. These matters are:
1. Postwar International Arrangements in Regard to Thailand.
Mr. Eden’s communications of September 4 and November 22, 194492 referred to postwar international arrangements to which Thailand should agree. This Government believes that at an appropriate time Thailand should be admitted to the United Nations Organization on its pledge to cooperate fully as a sovereign power in all pertinent international arrangements. It believes that it would not be desirable to make acceptance of such arrangements a condition to the restoration of Thailand’s independence and sovereignty.
2. Security Arrangements.
In his communication of November 22, 1944 Mr. Eden suggested that the military experts of the United States and Great Britain [Page 1273] should recommend what security arrangements affecting the Kra Isthmus may be needed in the light of postwar conditions. This Government agrees that such joint consideration would be highly desirable, and believes that the suggestion should be expanded to provide an understanding that all security arrangements affecting Thailand would be a matter for joint discussion and agreement between the British and American Governments and that neither the British nor the American Governments would seek a postwar base in, or effect other security arrangements with, Thailand without prior consultation with and the approval of the other Government. The United States would welcome the views of the British Government on such an understanding.
While it is considered that such an Anglo-American understanding would in any event be desirable, it is believed that in order to assure future stability in the area and to integrate all security arrangements in the framework of international security it would be helpful if France and China should also participate in such an understanding. The comments of the British Government on inviting France and China to join in such an understanding would also be appreciated.
3. Commercial Arrangements.
The United States Government expects as soon as practicable to make operative again the existing commercial treaty with Thailand93 (without prejudice to later revision) which provides for the economic rights and privileges of American nationals. This Government hopes that the Thai Government will treat the nationals of other United Nations on a similar non-discriminatory basis and that any special concessions or privileges which the Thai may grant will be open to all on equal terms. This Government would welcome assurance by the British Government that its economic and commercial policies in regard to Thailand are in general harmony with these principles which are designed to assure Thailand’s economic independence while, at the same time, protecting the nationals of all the United Nations by assuring them fair and equal economic and commercial opportunity.
4. Thai-Indochina Border.
The United States Government regards as invalid the transfer in 1941 of certain Indochinese territories to Thailand, but without prejudice to future border adjustments or transfers of territory which may be effected through orderly peaceful procedures. The Thai believe that their claims to these territories have both historic and legal merit. It is feared that unless assurance can be given them [Page 1274] that they will have early opportunity to present these claims by peaceful processes there may be popular Thai resistance to the return of these territories to Indochina and that the potential sources of conflict inherent in the prewar border may be aggravated. This Government believes that although the Thai Government should agree to accept the territorial boundaries of Thailand as of January, 1941, without prejudice to boundary adjustments and territorial transfers by later peaceful negotiations, it would be desirable to seek an agreement by the French and the Thai that they will provide for a prompt and equitable adjustment by peaceful processes of the Thai-Indochina border so as to eliminate sources of conflict and unrest. This Government would welcome the views of the British Government on seeking common action by the United States, British and Chinese Governments to promote and support such an early adjustment.
5. Future Status of Thai Government.
The United States ceased to recognize the Bangkok Government after its declaration of war in January, 1942, regarding Thailand as an enemy occupied country and its government as under enemy domination. It continues, however, to recognize the Thai Minister in Washington as the “Minister of Thailand”. When the conditions which led to non-recognition are removed, it will be the policy of the United States promptly to accord recognition to the Thai Government and to resume diplomatic relations with Thailand. These conditions will have been met when a lawful Thai Government on Thai soil repudiates the former (Pibul) government’s declaration of war (the legality of which is denied by Ruth) and its agreements and treaties with Japan; declares war against Japan; and commences overt resistance to the Japanese. This Government hopes that the British Government will be willing to take concurrent action.
It desires also to seek concurrent action by the Chinese and French Governments, but does not propose to approach those Governments until after learning the views of the British Government when it hopes that such approach might then be jointly made.
In view of its proposed recognition of a Thai Government, this Government expresses its earnest hope that when the Thai meet the conditions outlined, the state of war between Great Britain and Thailand may formally be terminated at an early date. It naturally is anxious that the settlement of the state of war will not conflict with the viewpoint, interests or policies of the United States towards Thailand, but rather that it will contribute to Anglo-American unity of action in the Far East. Because of the strategic disposition of Allied forces in the war against Japan, it would appear probable that the military forces entering Thailand will be British. The British forces, however, will [Page 1275] be under an Allied Command of which the United States is a part. Under such circumstances, embarrassment to both Governments could arise from the fact that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Thailand while the United States regards Thailand as a country to be liberated from the enemy and its lawful Government to be recognized when the conditions which led to non-recognition are removed as already specified.
6. Civil Affairs Administration and Control.
In the absence of American military forces in Thailand, this Government does not consider it desirable to participate in any civil administration or control agencies. Because, however, of its political policies towards Thailand and because the Southeast Asia theater is under combined Allied Command, the United States is concerned with the relations which the military forces entering Thailand under that Command may have with the Thai Government and in the nature and extent of any control measures which may be adopted. It would be appreciated, therefore, if the British Government would discuss with this Government contemplated arrangements and measures in order that there may be mutual understanding and agreement on the principles to be followed.
[The question of the division of some areas of operational responsibility in Southeast Asia was raised in a communication sent to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Supreme Commander, China Theater, by President Truman on August 1, 1945. The President conveyed his conclusion that the portion of Indochina lying south of 16° north latitude should be the responsibility of the Southeast Asia Command, the area north of that line to be left in the China Theater. The Generalissimo agreed to this apportionment, subject to the stipulation that the 16° line also be considered the southern boundary of the China Theater within Thailand. For text of Truman’s message to Chiang Kai-shek, see telegram of August 1, 1945, from the President to the Ambassador in China, Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Postdam Conference), 1945, volume II, page 1321. Regarding Chiang’s reply, see ibid. , footnote 2.
Under the terms of General Order No. 1, issued on September 2, 1945, Japanese forces in all of Thailand were called upon to surrender to the Supreme Allied Commander, Southeast Asia. For text of the General Order, see Report of Government Section, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers: Political Reorientation of Japan, September 1944 to September 1948, page 442.]
- See airgrams A–1085, September 5, 1944, and A–1404, November 24, 1944, from London, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, pp. 1316 and 1319, respectively.↩
- Signed at Bangkok on November 13, 1937, Department of State Treaty Series No. 940; 53 Stat. (pt. 3) 1731; for documentation on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. iv, pp. 825–890.↩