515 Shaw to Copland

Cablegram 155 NANKING, 10 April 1947, 5 p.m.


Before your departure I think you should know that we have the impression from informal contacts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the view is hardening among officials that Australia has adopted a deliberately slighting attitude towards China over [1] due to accumulation of a number of factors.

(a) Re-assignment of Eggleston to Washington while still Minister to China and non replacement for a long period. [2]

(b) Omission of China from South Seas Conference in Canberra.

(c) Apparent intention to omit China from the proposed South East Asia Conference.

(d) Feeling that Australian Minister for External Affairs has ignored China in statements and at Conference.

(e) Our unwillingness which is incomprehensible to them to agree to one word of alteration in the draft treaty. [3]

(f) Delay in raising status of mission (explanation about waiting for Moscow carries little weight). [4]

(g) Some suspicion over your long absence. [5]

These are personal impressions only and none of the factors mentioned have been the subject of official comment by any Minister. I think it most desirable, however, that prior to your departure you have firm understanding at least on the issues of the treaty and the status of the Mission.

1 A sign here indicates 'portion omitted'.

2 Eggleston was appointed Australia's first Minister to China in May 1941 and reached Chungking in October. He left China in February 1944 to visit Australia; during the visit, in September, he accepted the post of Minister to the United States and proceeded directly to Washington. Despite Eggleston's advice that his deputy should be given the status of Minister in Chungking, F.K. Officer, then later Shaw, remained as Charge d'Affaires until Copland reached China in March 1946.

3 Negotiations regarding a draft Australian-Chinese treaty for the abrogation of extra-territorial rights in China had been in progress since January 1943 and were to lapse without resolution in 1949. Disagreement centred on the words 'lawfully resident' in Article V. They were intended to make it clear that the treaty contemplated no change in Australia's policy regarding immigration from China.

4 Australia had delayed raising the status of its representation with China pending the completion of similar negotiations with France and the Soviet Union. The Legation in Nanking was raised to the status of embassy in February 1948.

5 Copland left China on 19 October, 1946, to attend the UN General Assembly. He was subsequently delayed in Australia and did not resume charge of the Legation in Nanking until 20 May.

[AA : 1838, 382/2/1, i]