396.1 LO/5–450: Telegram

The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Preparatory Meetings to the Secretary of State
top secret

Secto 135. Re Secto 123 (Paris 736).1 Following is US–UK redraft on assessment and intentions SEA agreed this morning in Tripartite Sub-Committee on SEA 2 and in discussion of which French delegate did not participate:

“1. SEA is of great importance to nations of free world strategically, politically, and economically. Loss of area to Communist control [Page 944] would constitute serious defeat for all free world. Fact that China now under Communist control makes retention of free SEA more difficult but the necessity more compelling than before.

2. The control SEA by world Communism is essential to rapid success of Communist strategy in Far East. Control of and responsibility for China, without free access to economic and political resources of SEA, leaves Communists with substantial increase in their liabilities without in short run a corresponding increase in their assets. This an additional reason for denying this region to Soviet system.

3. When war ended the dominant theme in SEA was nationalism and revolt against Western colonial domination. Measures already taken, however, such as establishment Burma and Indonesia as independent nations have done much to meet desire of peoples of SEA for political freedom and to retain their good will and readiness cooperate with Western democracies in spite continuing efforts Communists to divert forces of nationalism to their own advantage. In Indochina where Communists achieved some success this respect the steps taken to establish independent states within French Union offer way to a solution Indochinese nationalist problem.3

4. It is axiomatic that Western Powers must accommodate themselves to those nationalist movements of SEA which favorably disposed to West; otherwise they will inevitably gravitate toward USSR and its satellites including China. In case of those nationalist movements in SEA which already oriented toward Soviet Union, means other than force alone must be employed to weaken and reverse their ties to Kremlin.

5. It important for economy Western Europe that Western European trading and business interests in SEA should be maintained; but the considerable investment of capital and technical skill made by Western Powers in SEA and presence in both independent countries and colonial territories of SEA of substantial European communities provide firm foundation for further development of area in spirit cooperation between Asian and European countries in area at present produce surplus foodstuffs (considerable quantities of which however are consumed other parts of area). Thus discontent in area does not feed primarily on poverty and misery though rate of increase of population in area calls for immediate expansion food production. Region as a whole is economically underdeveloped however and as long term counter to Communist encroachment it desirable that all governments of region should collaborate in intensified measures of development designed to raise general standard of living.

[Page 945]

6. In same spirit cooperation the administrative experience of Western nations should be made available to countries of SEA and they should be encouraged so far possible to avail themselves of Western assistance.4

7. Although security of SEA is of strategic importance to US, the British and French have direct responsibilities in area which make its security of even greater concern to them. The forcible expulsion French and British forces in Indochina and Malaya respectively would be both a military and political disaster. UK and French therefore reaffirm their intention to continue to discharge their responsibilities in British and British protected terrritory and in French Union territory respectively in the area.

8. US has taken and will continue every diplomatic action which appears practicable to defend SEA against further Communist encroachment. It also prepared accord military aid within its capabilities and is examining the possibility of according economic aid to Indochina and certain other parts of area.”

Sent Department Secto 135, repeated Paris 745.

  1. Not printed; in it Jessup reported that Massigli had informed him during the morning of May 4 that he had been instructed not to discuss the question of a French acknowledgement of primary responsibility for Indochina. Jessup felt that this position sprang from the desire of certain French governmental circles to have the United States “accept principle of financial responsibility for Indo-China war in addition granting supplementary military and to lesser degree economic aid.” (396.1 LO/5–450)
  2. This third meeting of Subcommittee C was held in the India Office at 11:30 a. m.
  3. In the U.S. draft referred to in Secto 89 (May 2, p. 938) and transmitted in Secto 90 of the same day, not printed (396.1 LO/5–250), the first two paragraphs, with the exception of minor textual differences, were the same as numbered paragraphs 1 and 2 of this U.S.–U.K. redraft. The third paragraph, however, read as follows:

    “The dominant theme in Southeast Asia is nationalism and the revolt against western colonial domination. Discontent in Southeast Asia does not feed primarily on poverty and misery which are the basic causes of revolt elsewhere in Asia. The countries of Southeast Asia are rich in natural resources and, with a few unimportant exceptions, produce a surplus of food.”

  4. The fourth paragraph of the U.S. draft was identical with numbered paragraph 4 of the U.S.–U.K. redraft, but in place of numbered paragraphs 5 and 6, the U.S. draft had the following two paragraphs:

    “The political and economic stability of Western Europe importantly depends upon the preservation of legitimate Western European interests in Southeast Asia. Since, as a practical matter the nationalist movements are in the dominant position in Southeast Asia the maintenance of the interests of Western powers can be secured only by and with the voluntary consent of those nationalist movements.

    “The determination of Southeast Asian powers to enjoy independence and the attributes of sovereignty is not accompanied by a concomitant ability on their part to administer the affairs of their countries. They must have the assistance of their former administrators. Here again this assistance can be extended and will be received on a strictly voluntary basis only.”

    The remaining two paragraphs of the U.S. draft were, except for minor textual differences, the same as numbered paragraphs 7 and 8 of the U.S.–U.K. redraft.