396.1 GE/5–1254: Telegram

Third Plenary Session on Indochina, Geneva, May 12, 3:05 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1

official use only

Secto 193. Repeated information London 157, Moscow 66, Tokyo 55, priority Paris 250, Saigon 63, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Eden chaired third plenary session Indochina phase today. Although Vietnam inscribed to speak first, Eden permitted Cambodian delegate to open debate by reading text of telegram he had received regarding killing of Cambodian Government official and several other persons by Viet Minh on May 10.

Vietnam representative then reviewed events since World War II, blaming Communists in Viet Minh for betraying national aspirations Vietnamese people and turning movement into a tool of foreign ideology, and praising Bao Dai for progress made in winning reconition Vietnamese sovereignty. He then read text of April 28 joint Vietnamese-French declaration and also full texts of treaty of independence and treaty of association between Vietnam and French. (Translations sent Department in Saigon’s 2145, April 28.2)

Recognition of Vietnam sovereignty deprived Viet Minh of its raison d’être. Vietnamese representative then made following points:

Governments of Laos and Cambodia have full sovereignty, which state of Vietnam respects. Fate of “free Laos” and “free Cambodia” movements wholly within competence above-mentioned governments. Vietnam delegations, in view rejection by Cambodia and Laos Governments of proposal that these two movements be admitted to conference, has adopted same point of view. Reestablishment of peace in these countries will be accomplished simply by withdrawal all invading Viet Minh forces.
Viet Minh proposals purposeless. Viet Minh has no right to negotiate in name of Vietnamese nation, since this exclusive right [Page 781] State of Vietnam. France and Vietnam have already reached full agreement on question independence and participation in French Union.
Viet Minh proposals do not constitute serious basis for discussion. Absence of all international control over elections is unacceptable.

Vietnam delegation then made proposals regarding (1) military settlement, and (2) political settlement (Secto 1903).

Chou En-lai then took floor and ran gamut of Communist propaganda charges regarding French colonialism and US imperialism. Chou used harsh tone and succeeded in being unusually insulting to US, France and Bidault personally. Said stepped-up US intervention created danger extension Indochinese war and posed “ever-increasing threat to peace of Asia and world.” Chou called French military efforts “colonial war,” while terming Indochinese resistance “just war”. “Any attempt to ignore or underrate strength of Indochinese peoples or to deny existence of Democratic Republic of Vietnam and resistance Governments of Khmer and Pathet Lao is doomed to failure”. French ruling circles “either are unwilling to stop Indochina war, which has been condemned by French people as ‘dirty war’, or deliberately put forward terms unacceptable to opposite side to obstruct termination of war.” Chou said “activities of United States for forming aggressive blocs in Asia are inseparable from its objectives of preparing global war and establishing domination over whole world. Certain elements in ruling circles of US have of late concocted endless fictions about intervention of People’s Republic of China in Indochinese war”. US organization of blocs in Asia “having nothing in common with safeguarding of collective security” and “are being carried on behind backs of Asian peoples and of most Asian states. To organize certain Asian states into bloc against other Asian states can only create and aggravate trouble and division in Asia”.

Referring to his April 28 statement regarding consolidation of Asian states for safeguarding of peace and security in Asia,4 Chou said only by mutual respect for each other’s independence and sovereignty and by developing normal relations could Asian states “avert unprecedented calamity arising out of attempts of new colonialists to use Asians to fight Asians.”

Chou then cited desire for peaceful settlement of Indochinese war on part Chinese people and in India, Indonesia, Burma, Pakistan and Europe. According to him not all American statesmen in favor “of [Page 782] embarking upon military adventure in Indochina or Southeast Asia.” Chou then paid brief tribute to “peace policy” of USSR.

Chou endorsed Viet Minh statement and proposals as “truly expressing will of Indochinese peoples to fight for peace, independence, unity and democracy as well as their legitimate demands.” These proposals, he said, “have already opened way for peaceful settlement of Indochinese question.” He then castigated Bidault for maintaining in his May 8 statement5 “attitude of a colonial ruler, ignoring existence Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and refusing participation representatives Khmer and Pathet Lao at conference.” Bidault also, according Chou, “left aside political basis for restoration of peace in Indochina and acted like victor laying unilateral terms for cessation of hostilities and demanding their acceptance by peoples of Indochina.”

In milder conclusion to speech Chou again endorsed Viet Minh proposals “as basis for conference to discuss termination of war and restoration of peace in Indochina.”

Eden then asked questions contained in Secto 183,6 adding phrase “with, I suppose, reference to conference back here” at end of number three.

Smith then made statement, text of which contained Secto 191.7

Bidault took floor, expressed sympathy over events mentioned in telegram read by Cambodian delegate, stated conference should tackle at earliest possible date problem of restoration of peace in Laos and Cambodia, castigated Chou for presumption in telling him about state of French public opinion and endorsed Eden’s questions as useful contribution.

Viet Minh representative made speech trying to show that Indochina is single threatre of operations and explaining intermixture of Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese in resistance movement.

Cambodian delegate endorsed Vietnamese statement and criticized Chou for confusing Viet Minh movement with Khmer Issarak movement and again denouncing so-called Khmer Government as invention of Viet Minh and People’s Republic of China. He then replied to Eden questions saying Cambodian delegation wants Cambodia to be considered in special category, is in favor of immediate withdrawal of Viet Minh forces and irregulars under Viet Minh control, and favors international supervision of armistice.

Molotov then took floor and in clumsy statement tried to discredit telegram read by Cambodian delegate at beginning of session, saying [Page 783] it was of uncertain origin, had not been distributed, if incident had occurred illustrated lack of Cambodian Government control, etc. Lively interchange between Bidault, Viet Minh representative, Cambodian representative and Molotov ensued, during course of which Molotov attempted ironic joke which drew laughter from Communist side and dignified but stinging rebuke from Bidault that death of human beings was not laughing matter, upon which Communist side fell dead silent.

After getting session under control again Eden set next Indochina plenary for May 14.

  1. A set of minutes of this meeting (US Verb Min/3) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 276. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 5:35 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conferénce de Genève, pp. 58–79. The speeches of Chou En-lai and Eden and the proposal made by the Vietnamese Delegation are printed in Cmd. 9186, pp. 123–127. The speech by Eden and the proposal made by the Vietnamese Delegation, Indochina Documents IC/6 and IC/9, May 12, are in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A.
  2. Not printed. (751G.00/4–2854)
  3. Infra.
  4. Made in Third Plenary Session on Korea, reported in telegram Secto 28, Apr. 28, p. 153.
  5. Made in the First Plenary Session on Indochina, reported in telegram Secto 154, May 8, p. 734.
  6. Dated May 12, p. 776.
  7. Dated May 12, p. 784.