751G.00/1–550

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Butterworth) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Rusk)

confidential

As you requested of Mr. Lacy,2 there follows a list of primary short-run questions which we face in Indochina:

(1)
Recognition of Vietnam: Our present thinking is in terms of de facto recognition as an associated state in the French Union. The British have informed the French that they will give such recognition to Vietnam as an associated state and apparently plan to implement this recognition by raising their Consul General in Saigon to Minister without, however, establishing a Legation. We feel that we should not go beyond what the British and such Commonwealth countries as follow the UK lead are prepared to do and, in connection with the timing, our move should follow theirs.
(2)
Methods of strengthening Bao Dai: 3 After recognition we will be faced, together with other countries which shall have extended recognition, with the problem of strengthening Bao Dai whose measure of indigenous support is unknown but probably small. The methods involve consideration of economic support (which probably can be most effective if confined to the technical field save in the case of ECA), military items, and political moves.
(3)
The Chinese Border: Organized units of the Chinese communist army are arriving at the Tonkin border. So far they have given [Page 691]no indication of desiring to cross that border in organized units, even in pursuit of nationalist forces. However, it seems probable that the Chinese communists will supply Ho Chi Minh4 with arms and military technicians.

We do not know the present degree of cooperation between Ho Chi Minh’s communist forces in Indochina and those of the Chinese communists. Presumably, however, this cooperation will grow. It seems unlikely that the French will be able to seal the Indochina border.

  1. William S. B. Lacy, Acting Director of the Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs. Lacy became Director of the Office on February 19.
  2. Chief of State of Vietnam; former Emperor of Annam.
  3. President of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam.