153 Makin to Evatt

Cablegram 686 WASHINGTON, 8 August 1949, 5.15 p.m.


Following confidential telegram received in clear from Romulo.


Supplementing my conference with you in Washington and my radiogram of 25th July [1], I wish to inform you that on 3rd August 1949, the President of the Philippines issued a formal letter of instructions to me outlining the principles and objectives of the proposed South East Asian Union. I am now authorised by the President of the Philippines to make a formal approach to the Government of Australia and to present for their consideration a more definitive proposal than was possible during my preliminary conversations with you in Washington.

These two objectives are as follows- First, the immediate objective, which is to sound out the attitude of all the interested countries and invite them to a conference in Baguio to discuss methods of closer political, economic and cultural co-operation between them, the date and the agenda of the conference to be determined by prior agreement among the participating states; and Second, the long range objective, which is to form a closer union, without military commitments, among the peoples of South East Asia dedicated to the maintenance of peace and freedom in the region through appropriate methods of political economic and cultural co-operation with one another within the framework of the United Nations.

A pertinent portion of the President's letter of instruction reads as follows-

'I envisage such a union to be essentially an act of common faith on the political, economic and cultural level, involving no military commitments, for I am convinced that in the long run our strongest defence against totalitarian subversion would lie in providing a life of substance and contentment and promoting higher living standards among the Asian peoples.'

I wish to call the attention of your Government to the following features of the union as conceived by my Chief of State:

First, that it is strictly in keeping with the procedure and goals envisaged by the New Delhi Conference last January;

Second, that it is to be not military; and Third, that the letter of President Quirino makes no reference whatever to the China situation nor to Generalissimo Chiang nor to any anti-Communist pact. This proposal is a logical development of the New Delhi Conference and is not to be confused with any proposal or proposals emanating from the Chiang Kai Shek-Syngman Rhee conversations. [2]

As this is a Presidential election year in the Philippines, your Government will be interested to know that this proposal enjoys the support of all our parties and that continuity of policy in this matter is therefore assured regardless of the outcome of our national elections in November.

May I request you once more for the favour of conveying this message to your Government together with my sincere thanks to His Excellency Dr. Evatt for his kind reference to my statement in United Nations World Magazine as well as my personal assurance that President Quirino's suggestion is strictly in line with the moves taken during and since the New Delhi Conference. The reaction of your Government is eagerly awaited.

1 See Document 152.

2 Chiang Kai-shek and Rhee had discussed the fomation of a union of Asian or Pacific countries and agreed to ask Quirino to establish the proposed anti-communist pact in the Pacific and to convene a preliminary conference to determine its organisation.

[AA:A1838/278, 383/1/2/8, i]