740.0011 P. W./8–1345: Telegram

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

1348. On Saturday French Chargé d’Affaires Jean Daridan called on the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs to request that (1) Chinese Government make use of the approximately 5,000 French troops now in the vicinity of Kunming for the occupation of French Indochina. (These are French refugee troops who retreated some months ago into China from French Indochina. See my telegram No. 718, May 3, 2 p.m.11 and related correspondence.)

Dr. Wu, Acting Foreign Minister, replied that the request would be referred to the appropriate Chinese military authorities. (Sent to Department, repeated to Paris.)

Prior to his Foreign Office call the French Chargé visited General Wedemeyer in the latter’s capacity as the Generalissimo’s Chief of Staff, to request participation in reoccupation of French Indochina by the aforesaid French Forces and their transportation to French Indochina by airplane. Wedemeyer has since received General Allesandri, commanding French general in this theater. General Wedemeyer said he would be happy to help in any way possible but referred to the transportation difficulties. He authorized one French plane to operate between Kunming-Mengtze area and Hanoi, transporting key French personnel, and agreed to consult with the Generalissimo concerning other collaboration requested. Latter has since authorized French Yunnan troops to proceed overland from Mengtze area via Laokay to Hanoi.

Discussing his call at the Chinese Foreign Office, the Chargé stated to Briggs12 that he had told Dr. Wu that it would have a “very bad [Page 499] effect” and might “gravely prejudice” Sino-French relations should these French troops not be permitted to proceed to Indochina. He also predicted “serious trouble” should Chinese troops enter Indochina. He likewise brought up the question of French prisoners of war, of whom there are an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 in the hands of the Japanese; it was explained to him that under the proposed surrender terms the Japanese would be responsible for their safe transportation to places designated by the Allied military command. It was also pointed out that French Indochina is in the China Theater and that the Generalissimo is the Supreme Commander of the China Theater.

Wedemeyer informs me that there are two Chinese divisions in the vicinity of Nanning near the French Indochina border. These two divisions will probably be despatched to Indochina to facilitate repatriation, disarmament, and to receive surrender of Japanese Forces. (Estimated number of such forces in French Indochina is between 50,000 and 60,000.)

It is obvious from the foregoing that France is urgently desirous of complete reestablishment of her authority in Indochina at the earliest possible moment, and views with disfavor having any Chinese troops enter Indochina.

No provision exists in the Potsdam Declaration that the surrender of the Japanese in Indochina be made to anyone other than the Generalissimo as Supreme Commander of the China Theater, or to his designated representative. The French desire to save face by accepting Japanese surrender themselves. Neither General Wedemeyer nor this Embassy has any authority to change the Potsdam Declaration or the surrender terms drafted pursuant thereto. Nevertheless, unless you direct me to the contrary, I am considering suggesting to the Generalissimo that an arrangement be made directly between the Chinese and French Governments whereby French representatives will participate in receiving surrender of Japanese Forces in French Indochina.

  1. Ante, p. 99.
  2. Ellis O. Briggs, Counselor of Embassy.