896.1 NE/9–1150: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Holmes) to the Acting Secretary of State

top secret

1511. 1. From unimpeachable source we have obtained a picture of Cabinet attitudes toward certain of the issues to be discussed in forthcoming Foreign Ministers’ talks. Department may find this useful as background information but fact we have this information must not be revealed.

2. Seating Communist China: Cabinet took the position that Bevin should make strong representations to US regarding the immediate admission of Communist China to UN. Bevin himself holds this view, and was not discouraged by Foreign Office. Only two Cabinet Ministers, as far as we know opposed this course, McNeil and Shawcross.1

3. Following is what lies behind Cabinet decision: Far Eastern situation is dangerously explosive and a general war could easily develop. The major danger is that China might openly intervene in Korea, or make a move towards Formosa. A secondary source of danger lies in state of aroused US public opinion, and unpredictability of Mac Arthur’s actions. Cabinet confident US administration wants to keep Korea localized affair, but there is anxiety as to ability of US administration withstand public pressure or to control MacArthur.

4. For these reasons Cabinet thinks some action immediately needed to relieve tension in Far East. It believes that seating China will achieve this, because it is likely to deter Chinese Communists from [Page 1187] making precipitate move against Korea or Formosa. Cabinet also thinks seating Chinese will in long run encourage China to act independently of Russia, whereas keeping China out forces her into position of complete dependence.

5. To what extent Cabinet attitude is influenced by its original reason for recognizing China and seating her, namely desire to save some of her investment and trade plus Hong Kong, we cannot say. Our source informed us that this did not figure in the Cabinet discussions.

6. Ministers who opposed foregoing line of reasoning did so not because they were in disagreement with the reasoning, but because they approached problem from a different vantage. They argued that US would not agree to seating Communist China at this time, and it was imperative that there be no open split between US and UK. They urged Cabinet majority to defer China matter at least until after November for if China were seated in UN over US objections it would embarrass administration, might seriously affect outcome of November elections, and might produce serious division in US over foreign policy.

7. Germany: The Cabinet is prepared to go very far and move rapidly with respect to arming German police and raising German military formations within framework of an allied army. Only two Ministers held out on this, one of whom was Dalton,2 who is emotionally anti-Germany. In our opinion, Bevin can be pressed very hard on this point.

8. Bevin’s frame-of-mind: Bevin is convinced that US and UN resistance in Korea has left a deep impression on the Kremlin and that Stalin knows now that the period of expansion without risk of a general war is over. Some others share this view. Bevin therefore thinks that the moment is ripe or soon will be for a détente. He sees himself as almost at the end of his career and life, and he is dramatizing the possibility that he, as his final act, can engineer a settlement with Russia, that will bring peace.

9. We do not think Bevin will make any dramatic public move that could be interpreted as appeasement. Bevin is too shrewd for that. But we suspect that Bevin’s judgment may be colored by his dream as peace maker. It may, for example, explain why Bevin will press hard for UN recognition of Communist China.

  1. Hector McNeil, Secretary of State for the Colonies; Sir Hartley W. Shawcross, Attorney General.
  2. Hugh Dalton, Minister of Town and Country Planning.