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Historical documents

153 Makin to Evatt

Cablegram 686 WASHINGTON, 8 August 1949, 5.15 p.m.


Following confidential telegram received in clear from Romulo.


Supplementing my conference with you in Washington and my
radiogram of 25th July [1], I wish to inform you that on 3rd
August 1949, the President of the Philippines issued a formal
letter of instructions to me outlining the principles and
objectives of the proposed South East Asian Union. I am now
authorised by the President of the Philippines to make a formal
approach to the Government of Australia and to present for their
consideration a more definitive proposal than was possible during
my preliminary conversations with you in Washington.

These two objectives are as follows-
First, the immediate objective, which is to sound out the attitude
of all the interested countries and invite them to a conference in
Baguio to discuss methods of closer political, economic and
cultural co-operation between them, the date and the agenda of the
conference to be determined by prior agreement among the
participating states; and Second, the long range objective, which
is to form a closer union, without military commitments, among the
peoples of South East Asia dedicated to the maintenance of peace
and freedom in the region through appropriate methods of political
economic and cultural co-operation with one another within the
framework of the United Nations.

A pertinent portion of the President's letter of instruction reads
as follows-

'I envisage such a union to be essentially an act of common faith
on the political, economic and cultural level, involving no
military commitments, for I am convinced that in the long run our
strongest defence against totalitarian subversion would lie in
providing a life of substance and contentment and promoting higher
living standards among the Asian peoples.'

I wish to call the attention of your Government to the following
features of the union as conceived by my Chief of State:

First, that it is strictly in keeping with the procedure and goals
envisaged by the New Delhi Conference last January;

Second, that it is to be not military; and Third, that the letter
of President Quirino makes no reference whatever to the China
situation nor to Generalissimo Chiang nor to any anti-Communist
pact. This proposal is a logical development of the New Delhi
Conference and is not to be confused with any proposal or
proposals emanating from the Chiang Kai
Shek-Syngman Rhee conversations. [2]

As this is a Presidential election year in the Philippines, your
Government will be interested to know that this proposal enjoys
the support of all our parties and that continuity of policy in
this matter is therefore assured regardless of the outcome of our
national elections in November.

May I request you once more for the favour of conveying this
message to your Government together with my sincere thanks to His
Excellency Dr. Evatt for his kind reference to my statement in
United Nations World Magazine as well as my personal assurance
that President Quirino's suggestion is strictly in line with the
moves taken during and since the New Delhi Conference. The
reaction of your Government is eagerly awaited.

1 See Document 152.

2 Chiang Kai-shek and Rhee had discussed the fomation of a union
of Asian or Pacific countries and agreed to ask Quirino to
establish the proposed anti-communist pact in the Pacific and to
convene a preliminary conference to determine its organisation.

[AA:A1838/278, 383/1/2/8, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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