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281 Australian Government to Noel-Baker

Cablegram 220 CANBERRA, 20 December 1949, 11.35 p.m.


The Australian Government has received through your High
Commissioner in Canberra, Mr. Attlee's and your message indicating
that you propose to recognise the Communist Government of China on
2nd January next.

2. After carefully considering all aspects of the matter we have
decided that we are not in favour of according recognition to the
Communist Government at the present moment. Our main reason for
reaching this conclusion is that we are not convinced that
recognition would offer us any compensating advantages for what
appear to us to be certain obvious disadvantages. The Communists
have given no indication that they intend to respect the sanctity
of recognised international law and practice in their dealings
with other nations; indeed their treatment of United States
consular and other officials suggests the contrary. We see no
reason to expect that they will behave any differently towards the
democracies merely as a result of recognition. Whatever tasks may
command their attention within China itself, it is unlikely that
they will refrain from trying to foment trouble in neighbouring
Asian countries by every means at their disposal.

Conditions in countries adjacent to China are already unstable
enough without the added encouragement that recognition of
Communist China can be expected to lend to Communist and other
subversive groups in South-East Asia and elsewhere. It is true
that organised resistance by the Chinese Nationalist Forces is
crumbling: but we would wish to be certain that a Government which
was allied with us throughout the war is not abandoned
prematurely, particularly when this would have the added
disadvantage of hastening representation on the Security Council
and other United Nations bodies of a Government that can be
expected to vote solidly with the Soviet bloc.

3. We recognise, however, that the United Kingdom has special
interests in China which are in danger of extinction unless
reasonable relations can be established with the regime that is in
effective control of the greater part of China. We accordingly
offer no objection to your proposal that you should recognise the
Communist Government on 2nd January.

4. We realise that it will be impossible to postpone recognition
indefinitely. From our point of view it is the question of timing
that is important. When we are convinced that the time is
appropriate we shall suit our action accordingly. In this
connection the Minister of External Affairs will be prepared at
the forthcoming conference at Colombo to hear all arguments
advanced in favour of early recognition. But for the present the
reasons outlined in paragraph 2 above, together with some
reluctance to act in advance of the United States Government, have
led us to feel that recognition by us would not yet be

Hong Kong

[AA:A1838/2, 494/30/1, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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