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92 Legation in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1704 WASHINGTON, 22 December 1942, 1.56 p.m.


Following are general observations by Hasluck on I.P.R.

Conference. [1]

(1) Consensus of opinion reached on the following principles- (a) Third party judgment on post-war colonial rule in South East Asia, exercised through an International Pacific Council, the main purposes being to hasten progress towards self government and social and economic development of colonial regions.

(b) Fuller participation by China both in the conduct of the war and post-war planning.

(c) Settlement in India would be assisted by the setting up of an Allied Advisory Committee of experts to work alongside a proposed Exploratory Commission composed solely of Indians. American proposals for formal third party mediation were not supported.

(d) A world system for guaranteed security operating in the Pacific through an International Pacific Council having at its disposal an international police force.

(e) Higher standards of living in all countries of the Pacific.

This social objective had an exceptionally strong appeal to delegates but was not worked out in concrete terms.

(2) This consensus of opinion however hides some doubtful basic assumptions, e.g. that all dependent peoples of South East Asia are capable of self government at an early date, that Japan is the only possible Pacific aggressor now and for all time, that the Chungking Government can re-establish stable and undisputed rule over all China and Manchuria, and that balanced economic development of the region can be taken for granted. The conference also slid away from several awkward questions of detail such as international use of strategic bases, control of the Pacific Island bases vital to civil aviation, and the form of post-war investment in colonial areas (although in discussion the American delegates appeared to favour free private enterprise as against public development or anything resembling the Feis plan [2], while some Chinese asserted confidence in the ability to develop China from their own resources). Throughout the conference limited attention paid to Russia as a Pacific power. Virtual crippling of Japan, including the removal of industries to China, was advocated by some delegates but countered by those who urged the importance of eventual Japanese co-operation in a stable Pacific.

(3) British colonial rule was severely criticised along the lines of earlier messages regarding Wendell Willkie's views. [3] Churchill's silence on post-war matters was held to justify doubts whether the United Kingdom had ever accepted or intended to accept the full implications of the Atlantic Charter. The United Kingdom delegation, by taking defensive stand from the start and speaking with a united voice despite the known differences in individual viewpoints, encouraged the critics in their opinion that Britain was manoeuvring for a return to the pre-war order. These criticisms were freely expressed in the final plenary sessions.

The United Kingdom delegates then adopted the role of being misunderstood and at the close of the conference had not dissipated doubts regarding British intentions.

(4) United States delegates were individually more forthcoming and spoke idealistically regarding general post-war objectives but were disinclined at first to answer questions concerning the extent of American participation in post-war measures, falling back on the argument that American public opinion must prevail but was unpredictable. The opinion was expressed privately by officials that the administration had moved far ahead of the public on post-war collaboration and there was some doubt whether popular opinion would catch up. The Australian delegation gained general support in its insistence on the importance of full United States collaboration for both security and balanced post-war economic development of the Pacific region, and my personal impression was that the direct challenge made on this point was by no means unwelcome to the Department of State officials present at the Conference. The trend of discussion indicated, however, that some of the assumptions made in Canberra regarding post-war trade reorganisation are not wholly justified and considerable political difficulties have still to be overcome before economic planning can proceed with anything like certainty.

(5) Throughout the conference the Chinese were reserved, basking in the warm sympathy from non-official Americans. They clearly disclosed, however, that their ambition is to receive back unconditionally the whole of China, including Manchuria, Formosa and probably Hong Kong. In one round table conference when international use of strategic bases was being discussed, the Chinese delegates said that so far as China was concerned, the question would be decided after they regained their territory. The subject of Indo China was generally avoided.

(6) After comparing impressions with Canadian and Netherlands delegates, with whom we established particularly close contact, my personal opinion is that 'the small nations' of the Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands (and possibly Latin America) have a clear mutual interest and opportunity for co-operation in- (a) encouraging a realistic and forward-looking United Kingdom policy in the Pacific, (b) working towards full United States collaboration for security and economic expansion in this region, and (c) at the same time ensuring a United Nations peace and not Anglol American or American domination.

1 The Institute of Pacific Relations held a conference at Mont Tremblant, in Quebec, Canada, between 4 and 14 December. The Australian delegation consisted of R. J. F. Boyer (a member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission), Paul Hasluck (Officer-in- Charge, Post-War Section, External Affairs Dept), Lloyd Ross (Secretary of the N.S.W. Branch of the Australian Railways Union) and Eleanor Hinder (a graduate of Sydney University who had until recently been chief of the industrial section of the Shanghai Municipal Council and was about to join the International Labour Organisation in Montreal). The Institute, departing from its normal practice, allowed persons in government service to join the delegations and, as Hasluck later recalled: 'It became apparent that governments themselves saw the conference as a very useful sounding board and as an opportunity for exploring further some of the problems of the post-war settlement. Consequently the membership of the Mont Tremblant conference included persons who were able to make a highly useful contribution to discussion because of their closeness to official thinking and, perhaps even more importantly, who were part of a small corps of officials who would continue to work in post-war planning in future years.' See Paul Hasluck, Diplomatic Witness, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1980, p. 68.

2 Herbert Feis (Economic adviser to the U.S. State Department).

See the article cited in Document 26, note 2.

3 See Document 56, note 1.

[AA:A989, 43/650/1, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History