248 Burton to Officer

Memorandum CANBERRA, 29 March 1949

Thank you for your Despatches 9/49 [1] and 11/49 [2] dealing with China and communism in South-East Asia.

These will be particularly useful in relation to the forthcoming conference of Prime Ministers [3] where these matters will be discussed.

Regarding your proposal, there is a growing resistance here, and I believe in other countries, to any further organisation or machinery. You speak of a consultative council but already in South-East Asia there is a complex machine set up and the job is to get it to work. The setting up of new machinery will not necessarily achieve this. E.C.A.F.E. [4], the Health Organisation, Food and Agriculture, and the rest, besides the recently suggested regional organisation [5], should be adequate to carry out the purposes which were set out in the Annex to your Despatch No. 11.

As far as we can make out, however, the governments primarily concerned not only take no positive steps to make the existing machinery work, but seem to connive in moves to prevent its operation.

This forthcoming conference at London will provide an opportunity of discussing these matters fully. It seems to me a pity that the conference is at London as it carries with it the implication that communism in South-East Asia is best met by some concerted action from a point in Europe, whereas, of course, it is a local political problem with all the countries concerned and the responsibility must lie on the governments of South-East Asia.

[matter omitted]

1 Not published.

2 Document 247.

3 Held in London, 21-27 April 1949.

4 Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East.

5 See Document 142.

[AA:A4145, RC2]