Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 286

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Adviser to the United States Delegation (Martin)

confidential

Participants:

  • Mr. Kenneth Young, U.S. Delegation
  • Mr. John Calhoun, U.S. Delegation
  • Mr. Edwin Martin, U.S. Delegation
  • Mr. Humphrey Trevelyan, British Delegation

Subject:

  • Views of Mr. Humphrey Trevelyan, British Chargé at Peiping, on various subjects relating to Communist China.

During the course of a small dinner given by Mr. H. Trevelyan, British chargé at Peiping, for three members of the U.S. Delegation, he expressed his views on several topics of interest relating to the Peiping regime and the Geneva Conference. A summary of his views follows:

1. British Recognition of Communist China

Mr. Trevelyan said that he felt strongly that there had been “no loss and some gain” by the maintenance of the British diplomatic mission [Page 804]in Peiping even though the Peiping regime had failed to recognize the British Government. He cited U.S. press reports that the British diplomatic representatives were laughed at in the streets as being not in accord with the facts. He had never felt any sense of being slighted or mocked at by Chinese in Peiping, because of his unrecognized status. On the other hand, he had personally made a very careful study of treatment of British firms as compared to the treatment of firms of other Western countries which have formal diplomatic relations with the Peiping regime and had been unable to find any evidence that British firms were less favorably treated. Mr. Trevelyan evidently felt that the Western countries which had established formal diplomatic relations with the Chinese Communist regime had not been able to protect their interest in China any more effectively than had the so-called British negotiation mission.

Mr. Trevelyan said that he had discussed with members of the Chinese Communist Delegation here the question of Peiping’s failure to recognize the UK. The principal justification offered by the Communist representatives for this policy is that the UK had failed to support Peiping’s seating in the UN; therefore the British were “not sincere” in their recognition of the Chinese Communist regime. Trevelyan indicated that the Communists had also mentioned such matters as the handing over of CNAC and CATC planes “to Chennault” in connection with Peiping’s non-recognition of the UK, but the impression conveyed is that the British position on Peiping’s entry into the UN is the main consideration.

2. Peiping Foreign Policy

Mr. Trevelyan is convinced that, except for Indochina, the Chinese Communist regime is not interested in pushing forward externally for the time being but wishes to concentrate on internal developments (this is in line with views expressed by Ford of the British Delegation—see memo of conversation May 121). He expressed the belief that Peiping’s tough talk and intransigent attitude both at the Geneva Conference and in their propaganda output is explained by the fact that the Chinese Communists are speaking primarily to an Asian audience and care little about the impression they make in the U.S. and Western Europe. Trevelyan does not believe that the Communists are disposed to bargain for admission to the UN but will continue to demand it as a right and are willing to wait indefinitely for admission rather than make concessions.

3. Internal Politics

In Trevelyan’s view, the CCP’s comment emphasis on “collective leadership” while reaching high into the party, even up to the Central [Page 805]Committee, does not affect the very highest strata. He feels that Mao Tse-tung’s personal prestige and authority is stronger now than ever. He cited several recent events to support this thesis.

4. Economic Conditions

Trevelyan indicates that in conversation with Chinese Communist officials here, they have expressed great confidence in their ability to handle their economic problems. Trevelyan himself believes that the Communist regime has shown considerable flexibility in its economic policies in the sense of being able to reverse itself when a given policy proves to be ineffective or counter-productive. The Chinese Communists here have admitted to Trevelyan that there was no increase of food production in 1953, but they hope for a 6% increase in 1954. They explain the grain rationing program, which was formally introduced on January 1 though experimentally tried out as early as November 1953, in terms of the need for assuring an adequate supply of food grains to the rapidly growing urban population, particularly the industrial workers. Cadres have been sent out to explain to the peasants the need for the grain control program in these terms. Trevelyan, incidentally, quoted his local Chinese Communist contacts as saying the population of the city of Peiping is now approximately 3,000,000 and that of Shanghai is 7,000,000. Total population of the mainland is in excess of 500 million and increases at the rate of 8 to 10 million per year. This enormous annual increment to the Chinese population does not seem to worry the Communist regime, according to Trevelyan.

5. General Observations on Peiping and Environs

Trevelyan said no restrictions have been placed on his driving around the country side from Peiping. He has never been stopped on such excursions and does not know of any mileage limit imposed by the authorities. Frequently he walks in the Western hills and has never been molested. It is necessary, however, to get a permit to travel by train. He has experienced no difficulty thus far in getting a permit. In trips through villages in the environs of Peiping, Trevelyan has been impressed with the generally well-dressed and well-fed appearance of the inhabitants.

6. Impressions of Chinese Communist Delegation Members

Mr. Trevelyan says that on the whole his relations with the various members of the Chinese Communist Delegation have been pleasant and friendly. He apparently gets along best with Huan Hsiang, Ch’iao Kuan-hua and Kung Peng. On May 11 he was invited by Lei Jen-min, Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, to dinner. The guests included the four mentioned above and Huang Hua. (This is apparently the occasion [Page 806]on which Sino-British trade relations were discussed—see Secto 1892).…

  1. Not printed. (396.1 GE/5–1154)
  2. Not printed. (396.1 GE/5–1254)