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

Cablegram 77 CHUNGKING, 23 January 1942


Your telegram No. 21. [1]

I agree entirely with your view and have been opposed to it [sic] for more than twenty years and disputed it personally with Alexander in 1936.

your point of view, it is largely preaching to the converted.

Chinese need no convincing on the importance of the Pacific, but there is definite danger that if the attitude of Knox [2] and Alexander over-emphasised they may decide that Britain and the United States will desert them. In view of possible fall of Singapore and desperate situation in Rangoon which has compelled us to ask the Chinese for labour to work the port it is all the more desirable to avoid creating impression that we might desert China.

3. Assume British reinforcements being sent to Singapore, Java and Burma, and consider that as far as China is concerned, public assurances that Britain and United States will continue their aid should be given. Roosevelt's statement on these lines to van Mook [3] has had good effect here.

4. In the meantime I will continue to pursue the line you have suggested [4] and am also urging the British Ambassador [5] to press your view with Eden. [6] I suggest that Bruce [7] and Page [8] collaborate with Chinese Ambassador in London [9], stressing view that if we lose Singapore, Burma and Java we have no base from which to launch offensive against Japan. Failure to reinforce Singapore adequately would be serious breach of faith with Chinese as well as Australia, since not only did Britain promise us reinforcements when we sent troops to Middle East, but Wavell [10] and Brett [11] assured Chiang Kai-shek [12] that forces would be sent.

[AA:A4144, 2, i]

1 This appears to be an incorrect reference to Evatt's cablegram 19 of 23 January (on file AA:A981, War 49, i) which reported that the Commonwealth Govt shared the Chinese Govt's concern at reports that the U.K. First Lord of the Admiralty, A. V. Alexander, had said that the Atlantic and Europe were the most important theatres of war.

2 See Document 291, note 1.

3 Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherland East Indies.

4 See the cablegram cited in note 1. Evatt's instruction to Eggleston read: 'Your primary task is to understand and express not British but Australian angle which is fiercely critical of Alexander's viewpoint.' 5 Sir Archibald Clark Kerr.

6 U.K. Foreign Secretary.

7 High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.

8 Special Representative in the United Kingdom.

9 Dr V. K. Wellington Koo.

10 Allied Supreme Commander of the A.B.D.A. Area.

11 U.S. Deputy Commander, A.B.D.A. Area.

12 Chinese Prime Minister. Eggleston had already discussed the Alexander and Knox statements with Chiang Kai-shek on 21 January and left with him a note verbale emphasising the Commonwealth Govt's opposition to the view that the recovery of territories lost to Japan in the Pacific could be left until after the Allies had defeated Germany. See Eggleston's cablegram 69 of 22 January (on file AA:A4144, 2 (1941-3), i), dispatch 11 of 24 January (in AA:A4231, Chungking, 1942) and note verbale of 21 January (on file AA:A4144, 8 (1941-3)).

[2.] While I am making every effort here to obtain support for