751G.02/1–3150

Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Eastern European Affairs (Yost) to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins)1

secret

Soviet recognition of the Ho-Chi-Minh regime in Indo-China, following the precipitate recognition of the Indonesian Republic, seems both significant and ominous. During discussions of Indonesia at the recent UN General Assembly, Soviet representatives described the republican government as a puppet regime and as traitors to the Indonesian people. Soviet propaganda continued to denounce the regime up until a few hours before the sudden recognition.

In Indo-China, Ho has until recently been careful to avoid avowing his Communist connection and Soviet propaganda, while praising the “national liberation movement” in Indo-China, has refrained from treating Ho’s regime as a government. Now, however, within a few days after recognition of Ho by the Chinese Communists, the Russians follow suit. This contrasts with the cautious Soviet policy in regard to Greece where, though they supported Markos over a long period, they never recognized his regime as a government.

This Soviet action re Indo-China and Indonesia would seem to indicate, not only the anticipated intention to accelerate the revolutionary process in South East Asia while the area remains in its present fluid and relatively unprotected state, but also an element of competition between the two Communist powers for the leadership and direction of the revolutionary movement in South East Asia. It seems altogether possible that the Soviet action may have arisen from disputes during the present negotiations in Moscow as to who should in fact assume the leadership of this movement. It seems likely that the Soviets may have hoped to direct the movement through the Asian branch of the WFTU, which met last autumn in Peiping, but, finding the Chinese Communists disposed to go ahead somewhat on their own, decided that direct and open Soviet action was necessary.

While this not unexpected competition between the Soviets and Chinese communists for leadership in South East Asia bodes well for the creation of friction between the two and the possible eventual development of Titoism in China, its immediate effects are likely to be unfortunate in that the revolutionary time-table in that area may be speeded up by the maneuvers of each of the two partners to forestall the other.

All these considerations of course confirm the conclusion that Indo-China may now be the focal point of the most intensive and determined Communist pressure. The danger is compounded by the fact that [Page 711]most experts concerned in South East Asia believe that if Indo-China should fall wholly into the hands of the Communists, it is extremely doubtful that Thailand, Burma, and perhaps other adjacent areas, could long be held.

Charles W. Yost
  1. Transmitted through Llewellyn E. Thompson, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.