893.01/11–749: Telegram

The Chargé in India (Donovan) to the Secretary of State

1375. Embtel 1366, November 4. Panikkar, Indian Ambassador to China, asked me to lunch with him yesterday and discussed at length question Indian recognition Communist government China. Discussion instigated by him since, accordance Department’s instructions, I have refrained from raising question with GOI officials in view Depcirtel October 12, 11 p. m. [a. m.]

Indian Ambassador said he thoroughly disliked communism and that he did not intend press immediate recognition China by India. However, facts must be faced. India’s position with a thousand-mile frontier with China was more pressing than economic interests British and US. Communism is a greatly overrated menace. It has flourished only in countries ravaged by war. If India had been occupied by Japanese troops, situation in India would be entirely different than it is today and would resemble Indochina or Indonesia. In countries other than those ravaged by war, communism has made no great headway. It may have nuisance value but nothing more; examples Ceylon, India.

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I said in endeavoring view situation from Indian standpoint we did not perceive any positive advantages from too hasty recognition and until some assurance was given new government intended live up to international obligations. Indian Ambassador replied he did not expect friendship from Communist government China through fact of recognition. However, if diplomatic relations were established countries so doing would be in better position protect their interests and might exert some modifying influence on Communist government whereas without recognition nothing could be achieved. He anticipates relations between India and China after recognition to be on basis “sound unfriendliness” such as now exists between Britain and Russia. Britain and Russia criticize each other publicly but both powers know that there is no danger of war. Communist government China will attack GOI on radio and indulge in pin pricks but both India and China know there is no danger of war.

Tibet99 is not a problem with respect Communist infiltration into India other than as it affords access to Nepal which country is India’s greatest danger. Nepal’s “fourteenth century feudalistic” regime must eventually collapse and form of government which will replace it is definite source concern India especially since no geographical barriers separate Nepal from India. Indian Ambassador believes treaty between India [and] Nepal, with India guaranteeing Nepal’s independence, would be good idea.

Tibet can be sealed off effectively. Infiltration China into India from Tibet no problem since trade routes from central Asia into India have always offered means infiltration but very little has been accomplished along that line despite fact that training school for Communist agents at Tashkent has been in operation many years.

Total number Chinese in India about 18,000 of which 10,000 in Calcutta. Chinese in India offer no problem except as connecting link with Communist China. Chinese have never been able obtain foothold in India economically as they have elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Therefore their Communist activities here will not be important.

Indian Ambassador was critical of VOA1 program beamed on China and said deliberate misstatements of fact were made. He admitted Russian radio was equally distorted on subject China. Indian Ambassador believes situation Burma [and] Indochina hopeless and that they must eventually go Communist, probably dragging Siam with them. Indonesian Government has 60–40 chance of success. [Page 179]Britain can hold Singapore and probably Malaya. Indian population Malaya has never become involved in Communist activities except to very minor degree.

Why should US continue recognize Russia and withhold recognition Communist government China. Russia when recognized by US did not live up to obligations previous regime so why should US insist Communist government China assume obligations previous government. I think Panikkar is sincere in his statements, however fallacious they may be, and that he honestly believes India’s interests would best be served by recognizing Communist government when present Nationalist Government disappears. I am inclined agree with him that Chinese population India no great threat but inclined believe he considerably overestimates seriousness problem for India which present regime Nepal represents. I feel sure his arguments as outlined here will have considerable effect on Nehru since they discount entirely any internal danger to India arising from recognition Communist regime China. I personally do not believe Chinese in India will be source of any great difficulty after recognition although as Patel2 remarked if Communist government China took over Embassy here it could direct its propaganda machine more effectively and in this connection he mentioned large staff maintained Delhi by Russian Embassy.

Sent Department 1375, pouched Calcutta, Rangoon, Department pass London.

  1. For further correspondence regarding Tibet, see pp. 1064 ff.
  2. Voice of America.
  3. Indian Deputy Prime Minister.