The Ambassador in Thailand (Stanton) to the Department of State1
1581. NCNA despatches from Kunming January 31 and February 2 report establishment recently of “Thai nationality autonomous area” in Hsis Huang Panna (Sibsong, Panna) Yunnan consisting of area 20,000 square kilometers south of latitude 22 with capital at Cheli 100–50 east 21–55 north. Claimed autonomous area included 47 different nationalities of which Thai form majority population in area. Names chairman and vice chairman of 31-member Council of People’s Government emphasizing most of “Thai nationality” and others representing various mountain tribes. Claimed new People’s Government pledged follow Han Chi to guide Thai Peoples to help people other nationalities minorities implement area autonomy, smash activities American imperialists and Chiang Kai-shek bandit gang and “construct new Sibsong Panna under leadership CCP.” Repeatedly emphasized aim “strengthening unity of the nationalities.”
Comment: This arrangement pregnant with long-range implications, indicated Chinese Commies taking practical steps weld mountain tribes into controllable unit. Suggests intention exploit and develop sense of tribal nationalism among all so-called Thai tribes which could some day be used create disaffection among tribes in Laos, Shan States and northern Thailand. This tactic may foreshadow attempt carve out new dependent state based on tribes in all three countries south of China. Presence intensely nationalistic, so-called autonomous Thai area on frontier also offers opportunities for propaganda and other activities across border. Perhaps relevant note that recently Viet Minh have been pressing hard in Thailand country toward Laos and although no striking military gains made they may have left agents in area. Question arises whether Chinese Commies have in mind asserting influence over Thai tribal area of Laos thereby confining Ho Chi Minh to Vietnam coastal strip.
- Repeated to Saigon, Vientiane, and Rangoon.↩