Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Merchant)

top secret

Subject: KMT Troops in Burma

Participants: Mr. Tomlinson, Counselor—British Embassy
FE–Mr. Merchant

Mr. Tomlinson called this afternoon at my request in connection with the reported presence of KMT troops in Burma. I told him that since our last conversation on the subject I had checked thoroughly within the Department and was unable to find any reports confirming the information contained in the memorandum on this subject which he had left with me on August 8.1 I told him we had numerous reports relating to the presence of General Lee Mi’s2 troops in the neighborhood of the Burma border of Yunnan and that we had also received rumors that American arms were being smuggled to them from Thailand through private channels. I went on to say that we were just as disturbed as the British over the presence of these troops on or across the Burmese border and, as he knew, over a period of weeks we had been urging the Burmese Government to remain calm while at the same time we were making strong representations to the National Government on Formosa with a view to instructions being issued to Lee Mi by Taipei to stay in Yunnan and remain clear of the Burmese border. I said that we had just sent, or were in the process of getting out, a further instruction to our Chargé in Taipei on this subject instructing him to make further representations to the Chinese Government. I asked him if they had any suggestions as to what more could be done. Mr. Tomlinson had no further suggestions to offer and seemed appreciative of the information that we were pressing Taipei in the matter.

Mr. Tomlinson then said that Minister Steel had had an opportunity recently to speak to General Smith3 on this subject and that General Smith had been very firm in his assurance that there was no official connection whatsoever with Lee Mi. General Smith said that any Americans who might be connected with this operation were free lance and he suspected might be connected with General Chennault.4

As he left, Mr. Tomlinson said that they had had a further telegram from London which indicated that the reference in paragraph 4 of his memorandum to shipments coming into Bangkok on a particular [Page 288] ship was probably in error and that this particular item of information should not be accepted as fact.

The sole copy of the British memorandum of August 8 is attached to S/P’s copy of this memorandum.

  1. Not printed.
  2. General Li Mi, the commander of the Chinese Nationalist troops in northern Burma.
  3. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, Director, Central Intelligence Agency.
  4. Maj. Gen. Claire L. Chennault, Chairman of the Board, Civil Air Transport