790B.00/8–2951: Telegram

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

top secret

235. I called on PriMin at his request morning Aug 29 who gave me a secret War Off report on KMT troop dispositions in Burma, a summary their recent activities and an interrogation report of Major Gen Law Chein-po, alleged commander of first column of KMT guerrillas who was arrested at Lashio and is now detained headquarters [garble] sub-district Maymyo. Foregoing documents reveal that approx 7,300 KMT troops are now in Wa states and 4,400 in Kengtung state, that these groups suffered severe reverses in Yunnan at hands Chi Commies during period May–July 1951 and that from April 1, 1951 they recd supplies of Amer arms ammo and rations. (Copies documents being air pouched.)1 Comment: War Off reports is in line with previous info reported to Dept.

PriMin revealed he had been requested by War Off to make immed appeal to UN to take cognizance of violation of Burmese sovereignty by KMT troops. PriMin stated he was reluctant to accede but he had no alternative since twice previously GOB had unsuccessfully sought a solution outside of UN and since army high command had indicated that unless this step were taken army’s loyalty to GOB cld not be guaranteed, e.g. already BWOP2 and Commies who had infiltrated [Page 291] army here taking line that Thakin Nu govt by procrastination in dealing with KMT sit was secretly aligning Burma against Chi Commie Govt and this wld inevitably lead to war. Stating that while he personally sympathized with our efforts to fight Chin Commies all along line, PriMin said it was of course politically impossible for him to parallel our actions and in view of the uncertain allegiance of the army whose attitude toward the govt cld “change in a twinkling of an eye” he felt compelled this time to appeal to the UN. However, he did not wish take this drastic step without giving us advance notice and wld accordingly defer action until Thurs, Sept. 6.3

After expressing appreciation for info and advance notice given me, I conveyed to him substance top secret Deptel 182, Aug 22, emphasizing that US Govt fully shared GOB concern re dangers inherent in present KMT sit and that effective steps had been taken to eliminate and prevent any possible activity by private Amer citizens in supporting guerrillas. I stressed our continued desire to assist in every possible way, and after expressing earnest hope that GOB wld on further reflection desist from appeal to UN, inquired whether PriMin had any concrete suggestions as to how we might be of help.

PriMin replied that unfortunately KMT sit had become so urgent that point had been reached where in GOB opinion it wld be useless again to attempt to tackle it along previous unsuccessful lines. He saw no alternative therefore except appeal to UN. In closing he reemphasized that appeal to UN was dictated by internal polit considerations revolving primarily around integrity of army and must not be considered as denoting any change in his govt’s fundamental anti-Commie orientation, which he insisted wld remain unchanged as long as he was in power.

Since PriMin requested our conversation be kept in strictest confidence I have not reported this development to my Brit colleague.

Comment: It apparent PriMin feels life his govt at stake and it probable that not only army but majority Socialist Party leaders are demanding he appeal UN. We believe, and MilAtt concurs, that his fears regarding undependability army justified in view such factors as uncertainty personality and position Ne Win, deteriorating morale, tensions created by struggle for control of army by various polit factions, mounting friction between Burma and hill units, and covert contacts between high ranking army offs and Commie insurgents. We feel therefore that PriMin has not exaggerated precariousness his position shld KMT sit be allowed to drift.

Pass Taipei, London; rptd info priority Taipei 3, London 14.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Presumably this is a reference to the Burma Workers’ and Peasants’ Party (BWPP).
  3. In telegram 245 from Rangoon, August 31, Ambassador Key conveyed a report that the Burmese Cabinet on the following day, September 1, would formalize the Prime Minister’s decision to appeal to the United Nations (790B.008–3151).