Indo-China - part 2

Return to list

Indo-China - part 2

A.E.

Gloomy picture. Elements of Gk. tragedy – most of action off stage & reported in the play.
Elements in sitn. – i) Fr. uncertainties. Even chance Govt. may fall next week. No successor Govt. likely to be willing to continue struggle in I/Ch. Not worse prs. than present sitn., when Fr. won't get down to real negotns. & suffer continuing indecision.
Last wk. got mil. repves. to meet. But so far Fr. have made no advance on proposals 5 mos. old.
ii) China. Real fear of U.S., whom they believe to have aggressive intentns. in S.E.A.
cf. Laos & Cambodia. I believe you cd. make them safe & neutral – if no-one went in there. But to defend Siam you shd. defend line of plateau running thro' Laos. Any U.S. attempt to assume mil. line forward of Siam will cause Ch. re-action.
On other hand U.S. unlikely to accept real neutrality.
iii) U.S. Bedell Smith is under v. tight rein.
Many in U.S. who admit they never wanted Geneva Conference and wd. quite like to see if fail.
Large sections of U.S. opinion are now interested only in intervention. Lodge, in convn. with Dixon. Mil. convns. at Geneva. If we fail at Geneva, U.S. likely to seek U.N. cover for interventn. in Laos & Cambodia. U.S. are trying to widen basis of Siam's approach to U.N.
Very close support from old Doms. esp. Canada.
Am I to play the hand as now? I am only repve. who sees Communists.
i) Because Mol. & I are joint Chairmen & there is no Secretariat. We have to arrange the business.
ii) Need to explain motives directly to Chinese, not always
thro' Molotov.
Risk of this is being represented in U.S. as "appeaser". And it is played up by our left-wing Press. Concerned at effect on U.K. posn. & Anglo-U.S. relations.

P.M.

It wd. be intolerable if world security were endangered by inhibitions on contacts with other side. Shd. not be deterred by misrepresentn.
Continue in present methods. Duration is more dangerous than method.
Cabinet approved continuance of A.E.'s method.

A.E.

Trevelyan, h'to unrecognised in Peking, is now in touch with Chinese & various outstandg. issues are being resolved – e.g. release of Br. prs. We are now doing this too on behalf of U.S.
Have given Chou-en-lai a chance to send repve. to Ldn. – & unluckily he has jumped at it. Awkward moment for this.
They will want to send someone. He cd. be., as our man is, charged only with duty of organising recognition.

P.M.

Don't connect it with success or failure of Conference.
Find a means of deferring it for a time – e.g. wait until Geneva is over.

A.E.

They have agreed to our re-opening Cons. Genl. in Shanghai.
They also propose visit to U.K. of vice-Minister for Trade. I said Govt. wdn't invite. They wd. take an invitn. instead fr. F.B.I.
Think I had better stall on that – because of Anglo/U.S. relations.
Will say it wd. be more profitable after visit of private Trade Mission.

A.E.

Read summary.
Farcical. Based on sitn. wh. is most unlikely to arise. Ch. will not intervene by air in Viet Nam.
Fits in with B. Smith's view that sitn. in I/China can't be restored w'out ground forces.
Encouraging – because unlikely to happen. But mustn't have it publd. while Geneva continues. Tho' after failure we cd. under-write that. Seems that they are coming nearer to us.

P.M.

Yes – consistent with SEATO – to wh. Malaya (re-inforced) wd. be our contn.
If Hanoi fell, & U.S. intervened in I/China, we cd. support by re-inforcing Malaya.

A.E.

Risk is tht. U.S. haven't much right to intervene in these countries.
U.S. humbug – they haven't told Fr. tht. they won't intervene. & tht. they shd. conclude best agreemt. they can get.
Fr. are being led on to persist by U.S. hints of interventn. wh. are unreal.

Taken from C. 39(54) - Meeting held on 5 June 1954