691.93/6–1252: Telegram

No. 30
The Chargé in India (Taylor) to the Department of State1

top secret

4626. 1. Drumright called on Mrs. Pandit yesterday and had one hour conversation with her re Ind cultural mission trip to China. She spoke with candor, devoting most of talk to problems of detained missionaries and peace or war issue.

2. Mrs. Pandit said she had three conversations, each of about two hours duration, with Chou En-lai during her stay in Peiping. Chou had at first exhibited much reserve but warmed up when he apparently found she friendly, helpful, and speaking frankly to him.

3. She said she had talked with Chou at length about Indo Chi relations and need for keeping them on close, cordial basis. Chou had agreed, asserting this essential in present context world situation. Mrs. Pandit had then suggested there some obstacles and Chou had inquired as to their nature. She replied India disturbed at some indications China showing signs aggressive expansionism, citing case Tibet. She had told Chou India recognized Chi suzerainty over Tibet, but had been distressed and concerned when Chinese sent troops Tibet and assumed full administrative control. Chou replied China had merely asserted her legitimate rights in Tibet and had no aggressive designs whatever against India or any other country. Mrs. Pandit had stressed to Chou India earnestly desired follow policy of neutrality, but wld find it difficult to do so if China resorted to policy of territorial expansion.

4. Mrs. Pandit then said the second matter causing irritation was continued detention fon missionaries (she made no mention of other categories of detained foreigners). She said she went into this matter thoroughly with Chou, asserting she had been deluged with appeals, including one from Mrs. Roosevelt, before leaving India. She was personally interested in one married couple and Harriet Mills who was intimate friend her own daughter. She felt detention missionaries incommunicado, without stated cause and open trial, was indefensible and deep blot on Chi reputation. She therefore urged Chou to cause release these people who had done much good work in India as well as China, and thus contribute to improvement Chi relations with outside world. Chou had at first demurred, asserting missionaries but projection of western imperialism and some even involved in espionage. These latter wld have to pay penalty. [Page 64]Finally, however, Chou had agreed to consult his govt, and subsequently he had informed Mrs. Pandit his govt expected release missionaries except few guilty espionage in about six weeks time.

5. Mrs. Pandit said in this connection she had not found conditions propitious for delivery Roosevelt letter2 and had therefore brought it back India and wld deliver it to Emb for return Mrs. Roosevelt. She explained she had used substance letter and had mentioned Mrs. Roosevelt’s name in her appeal to Chou, but (as Drumright understood her) she never stated she had letter from Mrs. Roosevelt for Madame Sun to Chou or Mao. She had seen Madame Sun twice in Shanghai but had found her in seclusion, extraordinarily uncommunicative and even unwilling converse in English. She had taken Roosevelt letter when she went see Madame Sun, but since conversation led nowhere and Madame Sun in company four Chinese, she felt it inadvisable deliver letter. She added she had been told Madame Sun remained within her home Shanghai continuously except she went Peiping once each year to attend legislative meeting. Mrs. Pandit concluded Madame Sun living retired life and has had halo of saint cast about her by Commies but is removed from reality Chi politics.

6. Madame Pandit said she had discussed US attitude at great length with Chou and briefly with Mao, whom she saw for forty minutes at one interview. She said she made vigorous effort to convince Chou and Mao most Americans are peace-loving and seek peace just as much as Chinese. Pointing to her knowledge of US friendship with many distinguished Americans, she had strongly denied US aggressive or wanted wage war destroy Commie China. She had finally given Chou copy of SecState’s letter to her (Deptel 2399, April 25), but had passed letter on merely as from unnamed source in US. (She explained she felt it advisable not to mention letter came from SecState, since at that time Commies were launched on virulent propaganda campaign against SecState). She felt her vigorous pleading and letter had produced some effect on Chou and Mao. Chou had appeared to retreat from previously adamant stand US embarked on warlike course and cld not be diverted. Mao, in his conversation with her, had referred to letter and had made what she regarded as significant statement that perhaps [Page 65]India and UK cld exert themselves to bring about peace. (She said her conversation with Mao not otherwise significant since he had not displayed Chou’s capacity to unbend and talk freely.)

7. Discussion foregoing topic had been bound up with Korean truce talks, expecially POW issue. She said Chou had told her emphatically China wanted peaceful and honorable solution, adding it was Korea which stood to lose all and which was being utterly destroyed by war. Chou had said Chinese wanted “honorable” settlement POW question, i.e. repatriation all POWs. Mrs. Pandit had expressed view UN wld never agree forcible repatriation POWs and urged Chinese reconsideration. She added compromise solution this problem had been attempted all during her stay Peiping and fol her departure by Panikkar who had, however, tel later when she Nanking that Koje disturbances had stymied further discussions.

8. Mrs. Pandit said with concurrence PriMin she had outlined situation to Lord Alexander3 when he passed through Delhi eighth. She said he had expressed interest in possibility of Mao still seeking peaceful solution and he wld discuss question with Gen Clark4 in Japan.

9. Mrs. Pandit reiterated view she had expressed to MP’s tenth that Chi Commies in China to stay and it unwise ignore this fact. She felt Commies have fired enthusiasm of people and have channelled their energies toward much constructive work. She expressed opinion all segments populace except merchants and exlandlords support regime, although she admitted she never had opportunity speak freely to common people. She spoke critically, however of methods used by Commies, especially regimentation, conscription, and educational indoctrination, but she stated emphatically Commies had got speedy results. Taking land redistribution as example, she said Commies carried out vast program in less than year whereas in her own province (UP) where program taken up nine years ago there still no implementation land reforms. She added she had remarked on this situation to PriMin.

10. She said, having obtained Nehru’s sanction, she proposed write book which wld be all-round, objective account her impressions. In course conversation book Brain Washing in China mentioned and Drumright agreed meet her request for copy.

11. In taking leave Drumright expressed gratitude on behalf US govt for her assistance under most difficult circumstances. Mrs. [Page 66]Pandit concluded by stating there other aspects her mission which she wished discuss another time.5

  1. Repeated for information to London.
  2. See telegram 4301, Mar. 28, from London, Document 12. Madame Pandit had agreed to take with her a letter from Roosevelt to Madame Sun, on the understanding that she would deliver it only if she felt the circumstances were right. The letter urged Madame Sun to use her influence to alleviate the plight of foreign nationals under arrest or house arrest; contrary to Lamb’s original proposal, it was confidential and not to be made public. A copy is filed with a letter from Bowles to Donald Kennedy, Oct. 21. (293.1111/10–2152)
  3. British Minister of Defense.
  4. Gen. Mark W. Clark had replaced General Ridgway as Commander in Chief, Far East.
  5. See telegram 80 from New Delhi, Document 36.