751G.02/1–2050: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consulate General at Saigon


25. Personal for Jessup1 from Butterworth. Abbott2 will have shown you recent Deptels re Indochina and will fill in local details of current situation.

Dept still hopeful Bao Dai will succeed in gaining increasing popular support at Ho’s expense and our policy remains essentially the same; to encourage him and to urge Fr toward further concessions.

The start made by Bao Dai, the qualities exhibited by him, and his initial reception seem to have been better than we might have anticipated, even discounting optimism of Fr sources. Transfer of power apparently well received. Fr success in disarming and interning fleeing Chi Nationalists without serious intervention to the present by Chi Commies also encouraging.

However, more recently, marked opposition has been encountered which demonstrates at least that Bao Dai’s popular support has not yet widened. Increased Viet Minh mil activity is disquieting. This eld be special effort by Ho, timed to coincide with transfer of power and the arrival of Chi Commies armies on frontier, and to precede Bangkok Conference,3 or cld be evidence of increasing strength reinforced by hopes of Chi Commie support, direct or indirect.

Dept has as yet no knowledge of negotiations between Ho and Mao4 groups although radio intercept of New China News agency release of Jan 17 indicates that Ho has messaged the “govts of the world” that “the Govt of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam is the only legal govt of the Vietnam people” and is “ready to establish dipl relations with any govt which wld be willing to cooperate with her on the basis of equality and mutual respect of national sovereignty and territory so as to defend world peace and democracy.”5 Ho’s radio making similar professions.

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Also pertinent are difficulties of Bao Dai’s Prime Minister in forming new Cabinet. The projected govt does not yet reflect the breadth of support, or the participation of high caliber leaders and of key fence sitters, to the extent which seemed possible after transfer of power.

The recent reported demonstration by 150,000 persons in Saigon (Saigon’s tel 29)6 is also significant to extent that it took on character of anti-Bao Dai demonstration, an angle which Abbott may clarify.

Nature and timing of recognition of Bao Dai now under consideration here and with other govts. Fr apparently believe recognition by Western and Commonwealth nations wld aid shift of Vietnam Nationalist sentiment toward Bao Dai. They seem receptive to idea of stating intention to extend further concessions to Vietnam and we will continue to encourage them to do so. Fr hope Bao Dai’s Vietnam Govt will then be regarded by well-disposed nations as having attributes of sovereignty while remaining within the framework of the Fr Union.

Brit had intended extend de facto recognition after Ceylon Conference, at which MacDonald7 urged action endorsing Bao Dai. However, either because of the lack of enthusiasm of some delegations and the opposition of India, or because Fr had not yet ratified Mar 8 Agreements, recognition not yet accorded. Brit had contemplated a two stage program and planned to impress on Fr need to “facilitate” de jure recognition by ratification, by transferring Vietnamese affairs to Fon Ministry, by granting Bao Dai fuller powers in re to dipl representation abroad and in general according him the attributes of full sovereignty.

Presumably Commonwealth will fol UK lead on whichever line is eventually adopted except India, which will continue intransigent, and Pakistan, reported undecided.

Fr ratification expected late Jan. Dept still uncertain nature and extent of evolutionary statement Fr might then make.

Re Southeast Asia position is that Indonesia, Philippines, Burma, and Thailand have not decided on recognition on grounds insufficient [Page 700]degree true independence. Dept making additional efforts this connection. (Deptel 18, Jan 17.)8

Dept plans to recommend to the President recognition following Fr ratification. Timing and question of whether de facto or de jure at this stage will be coordinated with UK, and other countries, especially in hope that at least one Asian country will recognize previously or simultaneously.

Our immed objective is recognition take form which wld be most helpful Bao Dai and consonant our relations other interested states. If principal agreements are ratified, and depending on attitude Brit Fr it might be possible eliminate any de facto stage. In Dept’s present thinking Laos and Cambodia wld have concurrent recognition subject clarification status these states.

Dept considers it appropriate for you to express to Pignon our appreciation his difficulties and manner in which he has handled situation to date including his managing of the transfer of powers. We have noted efficient action of the Fr in neutralizing Chi Nationalist troops at the frontier. You may draw on the résumé contained in this tel in any discussion you may have with Pignon. [Butterworth.]

  1. From December 15, 1949 to March 15, 1950, Ambassador at Large Philip C. Jessup conducted a 14-nation factfinding tour of the Far East. For the text of his radio address reporting on the trip, April 13, 1950, see Department of State Bulletin, April 24, 1950, pp. 627–630. Ambassador Jessup visited Viet-Nam from January 24 to January 29. For additional documentation on Jessup’s Far Eastern trip, including his oral report to the Secretary of State and other officials of the Department, April 3, see pp. 1 ff.
  2. George M. Abbott, Consul General at Saigon.
  3. Reference is to the regional conference of United States envoys which convened in Bangkok on February 13. For documentation on the meeting, see pp. 1 ff.
  4. Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
  5. For the Declaration of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to the Governments of the Countries All over the World, January 14, see Ho Chi Minh, Selected Works (4 vols., Hanoi: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1961–1962), vol. iii, pp. 191192, or Cameron, p. 142.

    On January 15, the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam recognized the People’s Republic of China, which, in turn, recognized Ho Chi Minh’s Democratic Republic as the government of Viet-Nam on January 18.

  6. Telegram 29 from Saigon, January 13, not printed, reported that a demonstration and strike on January 12, on the occasion of the funeral of a student killed in earlier rioting, had been directed against the Government and Bao Dai (751G.00/1–1350).
  7. Malcolm MacDonald, Commissioner General for the United Kingdom in Southeast Asia.
  8. Telegram 33 to Bangkok, January 17, p. 697.