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253 Noel-Baker to Australian Government

Cablegram H225 LONDON, 20 May 1949, 10.50 p.m.



We have asked United Kingdom High Commissioner to keep you
informed of trend of our thinking on this subject and have been
glad to note large measure of agreement with our views. We are
anxious to maintain continuing consultation of this matter with a
view to concerted action at the appropriate time. Following
recapitulates our view.

2. To withhold recognition from a Government which effectively
controls a large portion of territory is legally objectionable and
leads to grave practical difficulties. So far as legal
considerations go it would be possible to recognise a Chinese
Communist Government as being de facto Government of that part of
China which it controls while continuing to recognise the
Kuomintang Government as the de jure Government of the whole of
China and the de facto Government in that part of China remaining
under its administration. Representatives with the Communist
Government would then be styled 'diplomatic agents' pending some
fuller form of recognition.

3. But on political and practical grounds it appears undesirable
to be precipitate in recognising the Communist regime and in any
case the question will not become actual until the Communists
announce the establishment of a Central Government.

4. Heads of Mission in Nanking are understood to be agreed that-
(A) There will be serious practical difficulties in arranging for
protection of foreign interests through the establishment of
Consular relations until some form of recognition has been

(B) Communists should not be wooed but should be left to take the
first step by for example [informing] [1] the Heads of Missions in
Nanking of formation of a Central Government;

(C) It is of the utmost importance to preserve a common front;

(D)All publicity which might suggest that the powers are 'ganging
up' against the Communists should be avoided;

5. Following additional points were raised in Nanking discussions
between Heads of Missions-
(1) Communists might content themselves with a public announcement
regarding formation of a Central Government and avoid any formal
communications to Diplomatic Representatives in Nanking;

(2) Communists might themselves impose conditions and refuse to
enter into relation with any power except on the basis of full de
jure recognition;

(3) If diplomatic agents were appointed by powers granting de
facto recognition Communists might ask for reciprocal right to
appoint agents and even Consular Officers;

(4) It is on general grounds undesirable to do anything to hasten
the disintegration of the Kuomintang Government having regard to
the desirability of keeping Chinese United Nations Membership out
of the Communists hands for as long as possible.

6. United States Ambassador is understood to be of opinion that
Chinese Communists are so little versed in the niceties of
International relations that they would not understand the
difference between de facto and de jure recognition. He is anxious
that nothing should be done at this stage to prejudice the grant
of de jure recognition or weaken the position of powers who might
wish to use the recognition question as a lever to secure
liberalisation of the Communist regime. French Government appear
to share the United States Ambassador's view that the Communists
are unlikely to be satisfied with de facto recognition.

7. We have only two pieces of information as to the attitude which
the Chinese Communists are likely themselves to adopt towards the
recognition question-
(1) A Chinese Communist broadcast implied that the Communists
would be willing to consider entering into relations only with
those powers who withdrew recognition completely from the
Kuomintang Government;

(2) An emissary of the Chinese Communists informed the United
States Ambassador in Nanking that the United States Government
would have to make the first move if relations with the peoples'
democratic party were desired. He added that the new Communist
Government would be set up in the Autumn.

8. The State Department view set out in an aide memoire left at
the Foreign Office on the 11th May is that it is desirable to
adopt a reserved attitude and to avoid initiating any move looking
towards recognition of the new regime. They consider that it is
undesirable that officials should even issue statements giving the
impression that any approach by the Communists seeking recognition
would be welcomed.

9. Question of formally recognising the Communists will only arise
after the formation of a Government claiming to be of National
character and it is at present impossible to foresee when this
will be. Meanwhile there would seem to be every advantage in
maintaining as State Department has suggested a reserved attitude
towards the new regime and in preserving a common front. With this
end in view full and frequent consultation should be maintained
with like-minded powers so that an urgent decision can be reached
in common as soon as the Communists show their hand.

10. We should be pleased to have any further comments which you
may wish to offer. [2]

1 The word in square brackets is handwritten on the cited copy.

2 See Document 254, 255 and 256.

[AA:A1838/278, 494/2/10, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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