The Ambassador in India (Bowles) to the Department of State
1960. Ref Embtel 1796, Oct 29.1 Deputy British High Commissioner informed us today in strictest confidence of further conversation Oct 31 [Page 590] between Indian Ambassador Raghavan and Chinese Foreign Minister Chou En-lai in Peiping. Indian Foreign Secretary R. K. Nehru had given information to British High Commissioner recently.…
Deputy British High Commissioner first reviewed substance conversation between Indian Ambassador and Chinese Foreign Minister on October 18 which appears to be that touched upon in Embtel 1796. At that time Chinese Foreign Minister had indulged in recriminations against UN and particularly US for approximately one hour after which he outlined current Chinese views on truce proposals at Panmunjom. He stated all three proposals are unacceptable because all of them are based on forcible detention. He said in extremely vague terms that his government concluded that so-called “Chiang Kai-shek” agents are not, in effect, genuine Chiang Kai-shek agents. Chinese POWs would want to return home if they were in real neutral camp.
Chinese Foreign Minister advanced three points:
- Repatriation of all POWs after armistice;
- Specific method and procedure open to discussion;
- Principle of no forced repatriation permeates all three UN proposals and as such they are unacceptable because POWs are under forcible military control. In spite of Chinese belief on these three points, Chinese have accepted reasonable elements in three UN proposals regarding method and procedure. However, screening in demilitarization zone is completely unacceptable. US side broke off Panmunjom negotiations not merely to detain POWs but in order to bring pressure on UN.
During Oct 31 conversation between Indian Ambassador and Chinese Foreign Minister latter further developed point re Chiang Kai-shek’s secret agents. Chi FonMin said if all POWs are sent to neutral zone, there are two possibilities.
- Secret agents may not come to Communist side;
- Secret agents may come but only for purpose of causing intimidation. Chinese Foreign Minister fully accepted possibility secret agents might not want to go back to China and since they were under orders of Chiang Kai-shek they could go back to him.
Deputy British High Commissioner stated Indian Ambassador in two conversations with Chinese Foreign Minister GOI made it clear that GOI was pleased with three UN proposals at Panmunjom (one of them as Department knows contained substance of PM Nehru’s ideas). Indian Ambassador had told Chinese Foreign Minister GOI supported proposals because they considered them good and worthy of consideration. Indian Ambassador and GOI were convinced Chinese were deeply shocked when talks were broken off at Panmunjom and Chinese were now most anxious to make certain GOI did not misunderstand Chinese [Page 591] position. Furthermore, Indian Ambassador and GOI were convinced Chinese were quite genuinely trying to find way of continuing talks. Indian Ambassador and GOI felt reference for first time by Chinese Foreign Minister to possibility some Chinese POWs might not go back was significant and highly important development.
Deputy British High Commissioner seemed to be in agreement with GOI interpretation but indicated it was possible Chinese Foreign Minister had spoken vaguely about Chinese POWs in attempt to build-up hope of further progress at Panmunjom and thus stall UN consideration and action in New York. However, he believes Chinese Foreign Minister’s remarks clearly required further clarification.
Deputy British High Commissioner believed report of October 31 conversation between Indian Ambassador and Chinese Foreign Minister had been forwarded to Madame Pandit in NY for expression her views. British informed London and NY but had as yet received no comment.
I was in Nepal when conversations took place, but hoped Nehru would open up discussion at luncheon Friday with me and Admiral Radford. However, Parliament was in session, ladies were present, and talks confined to generalities.
One possible explanation is that Chinese Foreign Minister disturbed over GOI private support of our position and is making effort to confuse situation and convince GOI of Communist good intentions. This borne out by absence of clear counterproposal.
However, we can not overlook possibility that Communists are fumbling for face-saving formula. Suggest US representatives at UN, possibly Mrs. Roosevelt, ask Mrs. Pandit’s advice what to do expressing belief some solution must soon be found to avoid danger of explosion. I suggest Mrs. Roosevelt because she knows Mrs. Pandit well and because she is so greatly respected here in India among other things for moderation her views.
This conversation will be reported to Nehru who will repeat it to Chinese Communists and with Eisenhower’s Korea trip it may help bring out Communist proposal if they have any serious intent. Of course, no reference shall be made to our knowledge of two recent Peiping conversations. This is crucially important.
- This telegram, not printed, contained a report that the British High Commissioner in New Delhi was told by Nehru that the Indian Ambassador had been summoned by Chou En-lai to a midnight conference in which Chou engaged in recriminations against the United States for breaking off the Panmunjom talks and claimed that a settlement must include the return of all Chinese prisoners. In the opinion of the Indian Ambassador in Peking, Chou was “feeling way toward compromise based on (1) differentiation between Chi and North Korean prisoners … and (2) marshalling of Chi prisoners [at] some collecting point where [they would be] assured fair treatment before being returned to homes.” Nehru thought the initiative worth exploring with the British Delegate at New York. (795.00/10–2952)↩