136 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Sir Frederic Eggleston, Minister to China

Cablegram 25 [1] CANBERRA, 29 November 1941


I have just been speaking to Casey [2] direct telephone. From this and other advices it is clear that Washington talks will almost certainly break down as a direct result of Chinese intervention apparently designed for the very purpose of preventing any agreement. If this becomes general impression it is obvious that the reaction may be unfavourable to China herself It has always been aim of this country that China should be safeguarded in any agreement at least against accentuation of Japanese armed attacks.

In negotiations for temporary modus vivendi that has been made reasonably clear. Of course we understand that Chinese objective may be to precipitate general Pacific war in hope that Japanese pressure will be diverted elsewhere. But it is possible that the only result of her present intervention in preventing agreement may be that she will have to face accentuated Japanese attack without being assured of armed support of United States. Further, in absence of that support it may be physically impossible for other countries to give her assistance she deserves. Of course if United States were to become engaged in armed resistance to aggression position might be transformed.

In these circumstances suggest you point out Chinese authorities (1) possible danger to China herself from her very strong intervention, (2) desirability of her obtaining from United States some assurance of armed support in event accentuation Japanese attacks. Intervention for the latter purpose would be far more valuable than her intervention for the purpose of terminating preliminary conversations at a period when it is essential that we should gain further time.

I would sum up our position in words of Prime Minister [3] to me this morning: 'China does not want to be treated as a pawn in this game. But neither does Australia'.

I am sending last two cables of Casey. [4] Also simultaneous wires from here to Bruce and Casey. [5]


1 Repeated to the Legation in Washington as no. 1024 and to the External Affairs Officer in London as no. 364.

2 Minister to the United States.

3 John Curtin.

4 Casey's cablegrams 1040 of 27 November (on file AA : A3300, 99) and 1045 (Document 133) were repeated to Eggleston on 29 November.

See cablegram 26 on file AA : A981, Japan 178.

5 Documents 135 and 137.

[AA : A981, JAPAN 178]