751G.00/2–2250: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Secretary of State


840. Remytel 837 February 22.

Mr. Schuman returned to his office yesterday after an absence of about three weeks and officially resumed his duties today. He seems tired and has not yet fully convalesced from his grippe. He said that he had gathered from Bonnet’s despatch that Secretary Acheson had not been favorably impressed by the French suggestion that they might recognize Mao Tse-tung. Schuman stated that nothing had been decided on this point and that it would only be done provided that his government became convinced, after feeling out the Chinese Communist officials, that the advantages to be derived would be substantial, but that, in no case was any recognition contemplated in the near future nor would it be taken without prior advice to the US Government.
I told him of the conversation recently had by Bohlen and myself with Parodi in which the latter referred to the speculative possibility of a withdrawal by the French from Indochina.1 Schuman said that later on the same day her had discussed this matter with Parodi and that this was not the position of the Foreign Office or of the government. Schuman said that he had had no opportunity since his return to discuss this question with the Cabinet, but that he felt that an evacuation of Indochina by the French would mean not only a massacre of French troops and French civilians there, but the [Page 743] slaughter of literally millions of natives who would be accused of having been friendly to the French or to Bao Dai. In addition, and more important, was his feeling that even the suggestion of such a withdrawal would cause the gravest political disturbance in France, would unfavorably affect the situation in the French Union, especially in Africa, would give the Communists and other dissident elements at home and abroad the impression of Western defeatism and would also be a betrayal of the responsibility which France owed to maintain an anti-Communist front in Southeast Asia. He said that he considered Indochina primarily a French responsibility, that he would like to get immediately marginal aid from the US in very considerable quantities and amounts in accordance with the list submitted to US today,2 in order to improve the efficiency of the French and Bao Dai operations against Ho Chi Minh. He pointed out his belief that the later steps to be taken and any question as to the ability of the French to continue indefinitely their present expenditure of men, money and materials in Indochina would have to be considered in connection with the overall policy to be adopted by the US, the UK and France in regard to a common Far East policy. He thinks it most important that Great Britain should be drawn into such discussions soon after this weeks elections. He has not yet made up his mind as to how, when, and where, he would suggest that they be conducted, but has sent word to Bonnet to be in Paris the beginning of next week to advise him in person of his conversations with the Secretary in Washington.
Mr. Schuman believes that important as is the situation in Indochina to the interests of all of us, that it must be considered only as a part of the general problem of opposition to Communist aggression, although, as regards the Far East, he was careful to underline that he considered it the vital point there.
  1. See telegram 837, February 22, supra.
  2. See footnote 2, p. 741.