250 Officer to Burton

Memorandum NANKING, 19 April 1949


Your letter of 29th March [1] did not reach me here until Saturday last, 16th April, so I would not have been able to send you anything to Australia before you left, even if there had been anything to send. There is not, except the enclosed despatch which will give you a brief sketch of the situation here up to date. In normal circumstances in a normal country the Communists should be able to secure control at least of the Yangtze Valley by agreement or conquest within a very few weeks, and one would expect them to attempt it in the absence of an agreement within days. But, as I have said so often in my despatches, this country is not normal, and I would still not be surprised if the crisis lingered on for weeks or even months, or if the Acting President still succeeded in coming to some curious typically Chinese compromise.

However, whatever the result or whatever the form of the compromise, I think we have to face a situation in which China will be Communist dominated for the immediate future. That would not matter so much, but it will also mean close alignment with the U.S.S.R., and so not only another vote for the Soviet bloc at every United Nations instrumentality, but Soviet influence right down to the Southern Chinese borders.

Hence the urgency of the matters I have pressed in my despatches relating to Communism in South-East Asia. But I am in complete agreement with you and those who are hesitant of further organisation of machinery. Unfortunately the existing machinery seems to do little save provide a platform for propaganda and discussion, and any wide based organisation which included, for instance, China, the Philippines and Korea, would partake of this nature. What I feel is wanted is a small very informal machine confined to those who are really prepared to fight Communism of the Soviet variety in the proper way, namely by improving conditions and so providing no field for it, centred probably on Singapore, together with continued and relentless pressure on everyone, including Malaya associated with it to put their house in order as quickly as possible. As I have said before, suppression is no use except as a short term palliative.

However, I will not say any more as I am simply repeating myself I still hope that the situation here will clear up sufficiently some time this summer to enable me to pay my visit to Australia and discuss this and other things with you. I am afraid it would be too early to think of suggesting a meeting at Singapore on your return journey, but that might still be a possibility for the future here presents infinite variations, one of which may be the desirability of all except a comparatively junior consular staff being withdrawn for consultation.

I hope you have a most successful visit to London.

1 Document 248

[AA:A1838/1, 490/2, v]