45. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Burma0

508. Department called in Burmese First Secretary U Pe (Ambassador ill) Feb 21 p.m. to see Steeves on demonstrations in Rangoon.1Steeves said US greatly disappointed over mass support given anti-American riots since apparently demonstrations based on Burmese public assumption US involved in support Chinese irregulars. This in turn due to heavy play such accusations by press. Steeves went briefly over long history US efforts alleviate irregular situation and emphasized provisions standard MAP agreements absolutely prohibit using US supplied equipment as alleged has been done in Burma. He reiterated our determination act strongly and promptly if investigation showed agreements were violated and expressed hope that demonstrations were not indication that our efforts at building up good relationships between US and Burma have failed.

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Tone throughout “more in sorrow than anger” but purpose talk was make clear USG seriously concerned and disappointed that GUB allowed demonstrations get started in face categorical denials by USG it not involved with supplying irregulars and moreover despite assurances we would act if investigation proved agreements violated.

U Pe was given following aide-mémoire. If useful you may use with GUB but Department does not necessarily expect you would wish follow same line in Rangoon.

Begin Verbatim Text: The Department of State has been receiving almost hourly reports from Rangoon concerning the serious riots and demonstrations directed against our Embassy there. We are informed that there has been extensive damage to the Chancery building but that Police and Burma Army units have so far been able to prevent actual entry by the rioters. It is disappointing to the Department that these demonstrations have occurred since they inevitably give the impression to the world that the normal and long-standing friendly relations between our countries have been affected.

The Department of State has noted from the reports that the rioters and demonstrators have shouted slogans alleging the United States has assisted the so-called KMT irregulars in Burma. The United States Government has categorically denied that it has done so by public statements in Washington and Rangoon and by private but official statements to the Burmese Ambassador in Washington. Therefore, the Department of State feels that it is both surprising and disappointing that demonstrations hostile to the United States were apparently based on these grounds. End Verbatim Text.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.90B/2–2161. Confidential; Niact. Drafted by Cross and approved by Usher.
  2. On February 21, mobs in Rangoon besieged the U.S. Embassy and attacked the Pan American Airways office. Damage to both was limited to broken windows, smashed furniture, and damage to automobiles. By midnight, the Burmese Army took charge of security in Rangoon, deployed tanks around the Embassy, and limited further attacks. No Americans were injured. (Telegrams 612, 615, and 618 from Rangoon, February 21, 22, and 22; ibid., 790B.00/2–2161 and 790B.00/7–2261)
  3. On February 22, at 10 a.m., the Deputy Chief of Mission handed Barrington a copy of this aide-mémoire. (Telegram 622 from Rangoon, February 22; ibid., 611.90B/2–2261)