790B.00/6–2851: Telegram

The Ambassador in Burma ( Key ) to the Secretary of State

secret

966. Deptel 891, June 22.1 Info which has caused Emb believe Chi Commies committed aid Burm Commie insurgents has come thru [Page 275] variety of intelligence channels. Evidences of collaboration between BCP and Chi Commies has shown up repeatedly in info given Emb … ; they have been contained in reports and conversations with: Emb officers of local Chi from border area and from KMT intelligence agents and army officers in touch with anti-Commie guerrillas in Yunnan; they have been referred to in conversation by Brit and Ind diplomats; some of details such as Chi Commie training of Naw Seng’s and BCP rebels even admitted privately by Burm officials; accounts, of BCP contracts with Chi Commies have appeared in various reports of other US Govt agencies recd by Emb; much of info has been confirmed by army attaches from own sources. In face such accumulation intelligence from wide variety sources and showing high degree of correlation Emb cld not help but conclude, as indicated in Embdesp 687, Apr 6,2 that Chi Commies are committed to aid Burm Commies. Since that desp written further corroboration recd by Emb from still another intelligence source, a report of joint intelligence Comite Far East (Singapore desp 683, April 26).3

Several Rangoon papers June 24 carried article by special correspondent of the Manchester Guardian which so well summarizes info obtained by Emb from above-mentioned sources during past seven months as to arouse strong suspicion Brit plants. Excerpts: “When Thakin Than Tun, leader of White Flag Commies, visited Peking in Nov, he secured promise from Mao Tse-tung4 that arms and ammo wld be supplied by Chi starting Feb this year.—Conditions attached to aid were that after victory the Burm insurgents shld collaborate with Peking Govt against expansionists and aggressors and that arms shld be used in conformity with directions of Eastern Cominform in Peking,—at least three Burm Commie leaders believed opposed to these strings to Chi aid.—Chi military advisers have been attached to Burm Commie forces since beginning of year in connection with milit aid program and cadres of Burm Commies now receiving milit training from the Chi at Paoshan in Yunnan province. Arms from Chi have apparently been reaching Burm Commies since early Apr along Lashio road.—Milit plan of Burm Commies believed to be to establish reliable line communications thru Shan states to Chi—-working along different: lines but in contact with Burm Commies is Naw Seng the Kachin rebel who is in Yunnan directing training of force of about 1500 Kachins, Karens and Chi in conjunction with a Chi Commie adviser.”

But number and variety of intelligence reports indicating that Chi Commies had agreed assist Burm insurgents by no means sole factor influencing Emb believe it true. Background against which this [Page 276] info recd also important consideration. Even in absence any confirmation from intelligence sources of collaboration between BCP insurgents and Chi Commies factors such as fol lead to presumption Chi Commies wld aid BCP insurgents if they cld: decision reached by Commie leaders at Peiping WFTU Conf Nov 1949 promote armed struggle in SEA countries, Moscow radio’s expressed sympathy for Burm Commie insurgents in their struggle liberate Burm from puppet Thakin Nu Govt; example of Chi Commie assistance to Viet Minh5 which also trying “liberate” their country; thinly disguised sympathy local Chi Commie propaganda organs for cause of Commie insurgents; coop local Chi Commie front orgs with above-ground Burm Commie groups, known presence of BCP reps in Commie Chi. Such factors have caused Emb to assume ever since Chi Commie troops arrived at Burm border in spring 1950 that collaboration between Burm insurgents and Chi Commies only question of time and circumstance. Against this background persistent reports that two parties had agreed collaborate appeared normal development and therefore entirely credible.

Despite strong presumption that Chi Commies wld eventually collaborate Burm insurgents (and despite their known collaboration with Naw Seng) Emb treated first intelligence reports that Than Tun had gone to Chi and concluded agreement with reserve (Embdesp 388, Dec 8 and 512, Jan 25)6 through indicating reports entirely plausible. Only after such reports corroborated by others from sources mentioned para 1 above, all pointing to same conclusion, did Emb feel justified in treating info as factual by time Emb desp 687, Apr 6 written.

Important cause Emb’s reserve re first reports that aid agreement reached was extreme difficulty Chi Commies wld have ineffectively supplying BCP insurgents isolated in Central Burma. As pointed out Embdes 388, Dec 8 development which wld provide best evidence that BCP had been promised aid by Chi Commies wld be BCP attempt move closer to Chi border. But now apparent this is just what they are doing. Six months ago Mandalay-Mongmit-Hsipaw area entirely peaceful and communications excellent. Now War Office reports 1,000 Commie insurgents in area carrying out raids of increasing frequency against rail and river communications as far north as Myitkyina district. FonMin himself has expressed his concern to me over large bands insurgents which now infesting state of Mongmit (Embtel 873, June 2).7 Thus there can be no doubt that significant movement of Burm Commie insurgents has taken place this year from Central Burm northeastwards to vicinity of Sino-Burm border. From Chi side … reported that Chi Commie agents had infiltrated [Page 277] Namwan assigned tract, which has common boundary with Mongmit, telling populace it Chi territory and collecting taxes. Even in absence of any info re agreement between Burm and Chi Commies, these developments wld point to existence of collaboration plan.

As to whether Chi Commie supply of BCP has begun, Emb conclusion that it has is based on fol: (1) … Burm Commie insurgents have been receiving ammo and arms from Chi since March 1951; (2) same source reports that in past six weeks unidentified planes have dropped supplies into BCP-held territory, (3) a local Chi whose info has proved accurate in past told Emb officer some of Burm insurgents trained and equipped by Chi Commies have infiltrated over border and contacted BCP; (4) Taipei’s tel 24 (1676 to Dept) June 6;8 and (5) movement of substantial force BCP insurgents to vicinity Chi border giving them ready access to promised aid (this connection, … BCP aid to Katha district in March netted them 15 elephants).

Though GOB declared news story cited para 2 untrue, its argument boils down to (1) denial any foreign arms recd by BCP and (2) refusal believe Mao Govt wld do such a thing. Emb has reason believe Burm intelligence has access sufficient evidence collaboration to be aware its existence but GOB refuses admit it as matter policy. Recent Chi Commie military build-up in border (Embdesp 917, June 21) likely cause GOB deny more vehemently any connection BCP with Chi Commies.

Key
  1. The Embassy in Burma was requested in telegram 891 to Rangoon, June 22 (not printed), to provide information to substantiate its previous assertion that the People’s Republic of China had decided to provide aid to Thakin Than Tun, the leader of the “White Flag Communists (790B.00/6–2251). The White Flag Communists were the more powerful of two Communist factions in Burma. The other Communist group was led by Thakin Than Soe and was called the Communist Party of Burma.
  2. Not printed: see footnote 1, p. 273.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central People’s Government Council of the People’s Republic of China.
  5. Viet Minh, the military forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
  6. Neither printed.
  7. Not printed.
  8. In telegram 1676 from Taipei, June 6, the Chargé, Karl L. Rankin, reported that the Chinese Nationalist Ministry of National Defense had information which revealed that the Chinese Communists were furnishing supplies and equipment to the Burmese Communists (780B.00/6–651).