279 Mighell to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 4 7 82 LONDON, 15 November 1949, 8.46 p.m.


Following is a summary of the views expressed at the Meeting of the High Commissioners with the Foreign Secretary on recognition of China afternoon of 15th November.

2. The Foreign Secretary referred to the aide-memoire [1] and asked us to express the views of our Governments.

3. Canada feels De Jure recognition is inevitable but they would not take the step before the United Kingdom or India nor before the conclusion of the General Assembly. They are obliged to consider the views of the United States and this was a question on which their views must not be 'too sharply at variance with the views of the United States Government'. Canada sought the views of the United Kingdom about certain particular questions:

(a) The likely effect of recognition on the position of 250 Canadian Missionaries in the South and West of China under the Nationalist Government.

(b) Whether the Nationalist Government will have some sort of recognition in relation to Formosa.

(c) How soon the Chinese Communist Government would take its place on the Security Council.

4. Australia outlined briefly the tests for recognition, the importance of the obligation to respect the territorial integrity of neighbouring countries, the possibility of an informal approach to the Chinese Communists and the suggestion that the whole question might be discussed at the Colombo Conference.

5. New Zealand is strongly averse to according recognition at all at the present time and felt that when recognition was imposed conditions could not be made.

6. South Africa does not favour early recognition but appreciates the United Kingdom's practical reasons for having to accord recognition. They think this should wait till after the General Assembly.

7. India expressed tentative views as Nehru has only just returned and has not consulted his colleagues fully but generally favours early recognition 'with grace and in time'.

8. Pakistan had no instructions.

9. Ceylon regrets exceedingly that recognition is probably necessary 'signalling another Russian victory' but generally agrees with the United Kingdom view. 10. Bevin summarised briefly representations that had been made by other Governments to the United Kingdom.

(a) The Netherlands would like recognition to wait until transfer of power had been completed in Indonesia.

(b) The French were moving towards recognition without enthusiasm and were most concerned about guarantees for neighbouring territories.

(c) The Scandinavian countries were generally in favour of acting in conjunction with the British Commonwealth.

(d) The United States appeared to be moving towards recognition according to reports but the Foreign Secretary 'did not discuss the matter with Acheson in Paris'.

11. The Foreign Secretary then said the various issues that different Governments

had raised would require careful study. He did think however that recognition of the Communist Government would imply automatic United Kingdom support for that Government securing membership of the Security Council. He felt that it would be a good thing if the question of recognition could be delayed until the Conference at Colombo. The general feeling was that around the New Year would be a good time to recognise, this being the general opinion of the officials who met at Singapore. He emphasised, however, that this was his own opinion and he had expressed it without consulting his colleagues. Events of course might make it impossible to wait for a discussion at Colombo.

12. My strong impression is, however, that in view of the wide divergence of views outlined above the United Kingdom Government will wait for the Colombo Conference if this is held in early January.

1 See Document 275.

[AA:A1838/278, 494/2/10, iii]