514 Burton to Kuskie

Memorandum 180 CANBERRA, 2 April 1947

ASIAN RELATIONS CONFERENCE [1]

Although we intend to pass on to you for the Secretariat as soon as available the final report of the Australian observers at this Conference, yet the following interim observations on its progress may be of interest [2] to New Zealand authorities.

Delegations include representatives of Soviet Georgia and Azerbaijan, Tibet, Viet Nam and Indonesia. Observers were present from the Institute of Pacific Relations of Moscow and New York, and there was an observer from Chatham House.

The Inaugural Plenary Session (of 23rd March) was initiated by a speech from Pandit Nehru in which the importance of Asia was stressed in world affairs, together with the fact of her emergence after centuries of foreign control to take her rightful place.

India was 'the natural centre and focus point of many forces at work in Asia' and whatever the conference accomplished, the fact of its occurrence was of historical significance and might be later regarded as a landmark in world history. He also said 'we welcome observers from Australia and New Zealand because we have many problems in common, especially in Pacific and South-East regions, and we have to co-operate together to find a solution'.

In closing this session Nehru insisted that Asia and Europe were inter-dependent and that if Europe went down it would have disastrous consequences for Asia.

In the course of subsequent discussions on migration, race problems and economic transition, no proposals emerged detrimental to Australia's or New Zealand's interests. [3] It was agreed that every state must be its own judge over its composition, and must be conceded the right to control immigration. (The strongest Indian and Chinese objections were actually made to restrictive and discriminatory legislation in Burma, Indonesia and Ceylon.) Note was also taken in the discussions on nationality of the Chinese explanation that Chinese nationality remained dormant while enjoying the privileges of nationality in another country.

1 The Inter-Asian Relations Conference, sponsored by the Indian Council of World Affairs, was held in New Delhi from 23 March to 2 April. Australian observers were J.A. McCallum, representing the Australian Institute of Political Science, and Gerald Packer, representing the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

2 A correction by hand here altered 'intent' to 'interest'.

3 A correction by hand here altered 'intents' to 'interests'.

[AA : A4534/2, 46/1/1]