253 Noel-Baker to Australian Government

Cablegram H225 LONDON, 20 May 1949, 10.50 p.m.

SECRET

RECOGNITION OF COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT IN CHINA

We have asked United Kingdom High Commissioner to keep you informed of trend of our thinking on this subject and have been glad to note large measure of agreement with our views. We are anxious to maintain continuing consultation of this matter with a view to concerted action at the appropriate time. Following recapitulates our view.

2. To withhold recognition from a Government which effectively controls a large portion of territory is legally objectionable and leads to grave practical difficulties. So far as legal considerations go it would be possible to recognise a Chinese Communist Government as being de facto Government of that part of China which it controls while continuing to recognise the Kuomintang Government as the de jure Government of the whole of China and the de facto Government in that part of China remaining under its administration. Representatives with the Communist Government would then be styled 'diplomatic agents' pending some fuller form of recognition.

3. But on political and practical grounds it appears undesirable to be precipitate in recognising the Communist regime and in any case the question will not become actual until the Communists announce the establishment of a Central Government.

4. Heads of Mission in Nanking are understood to be agreed that- (A) There will be serious practical difficulties in arranging for protection of foreign interests through the establishment of Consular relations until some form of recognition has been accorded;

(B) Communists should not be wooed but should be left to take the first step by for example [informing] [1] the Heads of Missions in Nanking of formation of a Central Government;

(C) It is of the utmost importance to preserve a common front;

(D)All publicity which might suggest that the powers are 'ganging up' against the Communists should be avoided;

5. Following additional points were raised in Nanking discussions between Heads of Missions- (1) Communists might content themselves with a public announcement regarding formation of a Central Government and avoid any formal communications to Diplomatic Representatives in Nanking;

(2) Communists might themselves impose conditions and refuse to enter into relation with any power except on the basis of full de jure recognition;

(3) If diplomatic agents were appointed by powers granting de facto recognition Communists might ask for reciprocal right to appoint agents and even Consular Officers;

(4) It is on general grounds undesirable to do anything to hasten the disintegration of the Kuomintang Government having regard to the desirability of keeping Chinese United Nations Membership out of the Communists hands for as long as possible.

6. United States Ambassador is understood to be of opinion that Chinese Communists are so little versed in the niceties of International relations that they would not understand the difference between de facto and de jure recognition. He is anxious that nothing should be done at this stage to prejudice the grant of de jure recognition or weaken the position of powers who might wish to use the recognition question as a lever to secure liberalisation of the Communist regime. French Government appear to share the United States Ambassador's view that the Communists are unlikely to be satisfied with de facto recognition.

7. We have only two pieces of information as to the attitude which the Chinese Communists are likely themselves to adopt towards the recognition question- (1) A Chinese Communist broadcast implied that the Communists would be willing to consider entering into relations only with those powers who withdrew recognition completely from the Kuomintang Government;

(2) An emissary of the Chinese Communists informed the United States Ambassador in Nanking that the United States Government would have to make the first move if relations with the peoples' democratic party were desired. He added that the new Communist Government would be set up in the Autumn.

8. The State Department view set out in an aide memoire left at the Foreign Office on the 11th May is that it is desirable to adopt a reserved attitude and to avoid initiating any move looking towards recognition of the new regime. They consider that it is undesirable that officials should even issue statements giving the impression that any approach by the Communists seeking recognition would be welcomed.

9. Question of formally recognising the Communists will only arise after the formation of a Government claiming to be of National character and it is at present impossible to foresee when this will be. Meanwhile there would seem to be every advantage in maintaining as State Department has suggested a reserved attitude towards the new regime and in preserving a common front. With this end in view full and frequent consultation should be maintained with like-minded powers so that an urgent decision can be reached in common as soon as the Communists show their hand.

10. We should be pleased to have any further comments which you may wish to offer. [2]

1 The word in square brackets is handwritten on the cited copy.

2 See Document 254, 255 and 256.

[AA:A1838/278, 494/2/10, i]