357.AA/8–1150: Telegram

The Chargé in China (Strong) to the Secretary of State

secret   priority

242. During call on Foreign Minister with Rankin1 this morning, Yeh opened discussion of Chinese troops in Kengtung, said Burmese attitude unreasonable, had launched six ground attacks plus calling in six British planes from Singapore; air attacks by British planes ended all hope for grounding arms by Chinese troops. Reported earlier request for more time and said Chinese Government striving get them out of Burma into Yunnan. Small advance party returned Yunnan already to determine safe place cross boundary and operate.

Yeh claimed Nationalist Government had carried on negotiations with French to permit them enter Laos, but after initial favorable attitude, French changed mind and refused. Also said had negotiations with Thai Government for ammunition supply (to be paid for in US dollars) to enable troops return Yunnan, but after considering proposal for ten days Thai refused.

In meantime one of rebel Burmese groups sent emissary and proposed Chinese troops join them in attack against Moulmein (not clear from Yeh whether Chinese troops still considering proposal). Rebels have supplied Chinese troops with ammunition to enable them continue resisting Burmese Government forces.

Yeh admitted communications with Chinese troops very slow but hoped have illicit radio established soon in Chiengmai area of Thailand. Have had many communications with General Li Mi in Hong Kong and Bangkok but Li Mi threatened resign commission if ordered to try persuade troops surrender. Officers of Li Mi have made much trouble with Chinese Embassy Bangkok, demanding money and supplies and diplomatic support. Li has been ordered remove troops to Yunnan soonest but Burmese Government, must give safe-conduct to Yunnan border and ammunition must be provided from some source to enable them resist Communists (even if ammunition provided, no one can guarantee troops will proceed Yunnan).

If case brought to UN, Chinese Government can say troops refused obey orders, can tell Burmese go ahead take military measures to overcome them and can state would welcome UN forces take action.

I pointed out that actually Chinese Government had no control over troops; Yeh concurred. Also doubtful Li Mi will cooperate fully with Chinese Government.

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Another possibility is that troops might agree enter Thailand and accept being disarmed by Thai Government, but this would take time, again.

Yeh seemed adamant against ordering troops lay down arms in Burma. There are doubtless internal reasons here for his attitude. Although I again pointed out very sound reasons for Burmese action and demand, and US concern, Yeh inclined place blame on Burmese Government.

Placing problem before UN will solve nothing quickly because no existing force can control these Chinese troops.

Department pass Rangoon, Bangkok; sent Department 242, repeated info Rangoon 5, Bangkok 5.

  1. Karl L. Rankin, formerly Consul General at Hong Kong, had recently arrived in Taiwan to assume the position of Chargé d’Affaires ad interim and Minister in Taipei. Mr. Strong, as Chargé, held only the rank of First Secretary.