Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Chinese Affairs (Sprouse)

Participants: Senhor Pedro Theotonio Pereira, Ambassador of Portugal
Mr. Butterworth, Assistant Secretary
Mr. Dunham, WE
Mr. Sprouse, CA

The Portuguese Ambassador called this afternoon by appointment and explained that he would like to review with Mr. Butterworth the situation in China and its relation to the problem of Macao. He referred to the recent British approach to his government regarding the question of recognition of a Chinese Communist regime and said that it seemed to indicate that the British Government was disposed toward [Page 188]early recognition. He said that if the British Government did recognize the Chinese Communist regime it would, of course, be extremely difficult for the Portuguese Government not to follow suit, particularly in view of the position of Macao. He asked if there had been any change in the Department’s position in this regard since his conversation of several months ago with Mr. Butterworth.

Mr. Butterworth, after stating that there had been no change in the Department’s position, stated that we still felt it desirable for the friendly interested governments to maintain a common position with regard to recognition. He further stated that of course at present the Chinese Communists had not gained control over the entire area on the mainland, sizable areas of which were still in non-communist hands. He stated that the Department did not believe that anything could be gained through hasty action on this question. He said that it was realized of course that the British position with respect to the large British investments in China and the problem of Hong Kong played a considerable part in British thinking on this question. Referring to the Communist treatment of Consul General Ward and his staff at Mukden, Mr. Butterworth pointed out that this Government could under these circumstances give no consideration to the question of recognition.

The Portuguese Ambassador then expressed an interest in the general situation in China and the Chinese Communist regime at Peiping. Mr. Sprouse gave a brief summary description of the Chinese Communist regime and the situation in China, as reported by officers in the field.

The Ambassador indicated that the Portuguese Government would probably not expect to obtain any commitment from the Chinese Communist regime regarding Macao in the event that it decided to extend recognition, since such a commitment would obviously be worthless. He added that the Governor of Macao would, however, probably seek and be able to obtain some assurances regarding Macao from Chinese Communist authorities in the Canton area. He seemed to feel that these assurances, in keeping with the traditional Chinese practices, would be worth much more than any assurances from a Chinese Communist regime at Peiping. He further indicated that the Portuguese forces at Macao represented only a “moral” force in terms of meeting a possible Chinese Communist attack and that the colony could not be defended against a determined attack. In conclusion, he reiterated that the Portuguese Government would find it extremely difficult not to recognize the Chinese Communist regime if the British Government took such action.