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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]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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