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Historical documents

272 Bevin to Evatt

Message [1] 17 October 1949

I am grateful for your message of 4th October [2] since I fully
appreciate the value of close consultation between us in regard to
our policy towards the new China.

2. I trust the interim reply already returned to you has proved
helpful. [3] I have never considered that the Chinese Communists
would be content with de facto recognition and I think this view
is borne out by their silence over the message conveyed to them by
His Majesty's Consul-General at Peking on October 5th and the
parallel communication made by the Australian representative. [4]
I am advised that these messages, whose purpose was no more than
to establish day-to-day working relations between our Consular
representatives and the Communist authorities, should be regarded
in strict law as constituting de facto recognition. Nevertheless,
I think our action was politically wise and appropriately timed
and I am glad to see that the Governments of India, Portugal and
Denmark have already acted similarly.

3. On the question of any further degree of recognition I think we
must assume that the Communists will refuse to enter into
diplomatic relations with Powers who continue to recognise the
Nationalist Government. The position of that Government will be
bound to come under fire from the Soviet Union when China is
discussed in the Political Committee of the Assembly. We are
considering what our attitude should be when this subject comes up
for debate (probably in November) and hope to communicate with you
in due course.

4. I am doubtful whether there are any grounds on which it would
be possible to press for the appointment of a United Nations
Commission to visit China. Certainly the Communists would oppose
such a move and we should be faced with a situation similar to
that which prevails in Korea. We do not want to adopt an openly
hostile attitude towards the Communist regime since this would
only prejudice the future.

5. We shall certainly not take any action without the fullest
consultation with you and the other Governments concerned.

1 Conveyed through the UK High Commissioner.

2 Document 269.

3 As Bevin was in Ottawa, an interim reply was sent on 5 0ctober
1949 advising that the UK was anxious that any action taken should
be closely concerted with the Australia. Government.

4 Document 271

[AA:A3318, L49/3/1/22]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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