286 Department of External Affairs to Evatt

Cablegram A5 CANBERRA, 31 May 1946


1. Please see No. 277 to Canberra [1] repeated Washington No- 5 [from] Copland.

2. We would suggest following instructions to Copland:

(a) it seems desirable to us that UNRRA's activities in China should not be prolonged though we can foresee that they may be by force of circumstances. At this stage, however it seems unwise to recommend any extension of time which might well entail further commitments.

(b) As the basic principle of UNRRA is to relieve human distress caused by the war irrespective of national and political considerations, we think no distinction should be made between Government and Communist controlled areas except on grounds of need.

(c) Distribution of relief through UNRRA has been reported by Copland as most unsatisfactory. It is suggested Copland should propose remedial measures at his discretion, guided by his local knowledge of what is practicable.

3. At request of New Zealand Government we agreed Copland could represent also general interests of New Zealand Government at the Conference. [2] We have sent text of his 277 to Prime Minister, New Zealand. High Commissioner New Zealand Canberra [3], has been informed we are submitting our views for your approval. In view of desirability of avoiding conflict between Australian and New Zealand views especially as Copland represents both Governments on this occasion, assume you will make known your views to New Zealand authorities and inform us. As meeting commences 7th June we are anxious to instruct Copland as soon as possible after co- ordination of views with New Zealand. [4]

1 Dispatched 28 May. Copland reported that Chinese distribution of relief was 'inefficient and corrupt', that Communist-controlled areas had received very small proportion of UNRRA supplies, and that the forthcoming meeting of UNRRA's Far Eastern Committee at Nanking would consider the questions of extending UNRRA operations in China a further six months beyond March 1947, and of supplies of goods to Communist controlled areas.

2 See Document 58, note 2.

3 J. G. Barclay.

4 Evatt and Fraser both approved the proposed instructions. In cablegram 297 of 10 June, Copland reported that the Far Eastern Committee had appointed two sub-committees, the first to review distribution policies in China and on which Copland recommended 'active participation', and the other to prepare information on UNRRA shipments and the desirability of extending operations beyond March 1947.

[AA:A1067, R46/3/2]