48. Telegram From the Under Secretary of State (Bowles) to the Department of State0

Secun 36. Secretary and President from Under Secretary Bowles. In course of long, detailed, and extremely useful discussion with U Nu, question of ChiNats in North Burma came up repeatedly. Prime Minister stated that shipments US aid in 1952–53 from Taiwan to this irregular force had come at time when Burmese Government was already sorely pressed by rebellious Kachins, Shans, Karens, plus two separate Communist groups and had very nearly broken back of his government.

Again last fall ChiNats reinforcements plus supplies provided to Taipei Government by US resulted in substantial casualties to Burmese [Page 102] Army, fresh opportunity for ChiComs and further loss traditional respect by Burmese for US Government.

Prime Minister accepted my regrets, explanations, and assurances that action of ChiNats on Taipei had been taken without our approval. While expressing personal confidence in new Kennedy administration, he added, some of his colleagues who did not have benefit of his personal contacts with US leaders over period of years, were still embittered and suspicious. Although he knew US had no part in present difficulties in Shan area, inevitable that Communists in Burma should spread rumor that we were involved and many Burmese believed them.

Comment: Against this background, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] report from Taipei referring to existing organization of 3,000 ChiNats in Burma although unsubstantiated was most disturbing. If Taipei Government should seek again encourage this activity and regardless proof of our disapproval, US position and influence in Burma would be destroyed for some time to come.

Under circumstances believe it essential we underscore our insistence that any ChiNatsaid to or contact with this insurgent group must not be resumed under any circumstances and that Embassy [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Taipei be instructed watch situation with utmost care.

I should add that there was no indication that Prime Minister Nu suspects present activity or even communication with Taiwan. On contrary, he said that ChiNats appeared to have made clean break with what he referred to as Chinese “remnants”, whom he asserted had been broken up and dispersed.1

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.12-BO/8–561. Top Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Under Secretary Bowles was holding a series of regional meetings with U.S. Ambassadors around the world. According to a Department of State press release, the purpose of the meeting was to provide Bowles the opportunity to discuss the philosophy, broad objectives, and specific policies of the Kennedy administration and to consider techniques for improving the overall operation of U.S. missions abroad. Bowles was in Lagos July 26–28, Nicosia July 31–August 2, Rangoon August 4–5, and New Delhi August 7–9. (Department of State Bulletin, August 7, 1961, p. 246) Briefing papers for Bowles’ visit to Rangoon are in a memorandum from McConaughy to Bowles, July 21. (Department of State, FE/SEA/Burma Files: Lot 65 D 439, Briefing Papers, 1961)
  2. In Secun 37 from New Delhi, August 5, Bowles reported on a 1–1/2 hour private conversation with U Nu about U Nu’s April visit to Peking, his evaluation of the situation in China, and how it related to Burma. (Ibid., Central Files, 100.12-BO/8–561)