238 Officer to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 52 NANKING, 2 February 1949, 6.15 p.m.

IMMEDIATE TOP SECRET

Your telegram No. 20. [1] I called on the acting President, Li Tsung Jen, this morning and talked to him generally on the lines of above telegram and para. 3 of my telegram No.44. [2]

2. Li Tsung Jen explained the situation at considerable length.

Within the last two days Chiang Kai-Shek has given him a written assurance that he will not interfere in any way in the affairs in China for at least four years. Thus strengthened Li is pressing on with his efforts for peace. He is determined to do the utmost to secure it despite very great obstacles such as:-

(a) years of hate and war and the resulting ill will.

(b) Superior military position of the Communists.

3. To answer (a) he has endeavoured to show his sincerity by promulgating immediately [a series of] [3] reforms, by giving orders to the troops to avoid any further fighting and finally by arranging to send a private mission of four trusted men to Peking to carry out informal talks and prepare the way for the early commencement of more formal negotiations.

4. His answer to (b) is the strength of public opinion in favour of peace throughout China. If public opinion outside could be expressed also it would be a great help.

5. He welcomed the suggestion that Doctor Evatt should make a statement and hopes that he will feel able to do so very soon.

Perhaps at a later date should negotiations be delayed he may ask Doctor Evatt to take the matter further and consider the possibility of the United Nations offering its Good Offices.

1 Document 237 2 Document 234 3 Words in square brackets inserted from copy on file AA: A4145/1, RM5.

[FA:OUTWARD ORIGINAL (TS) 1948-50]