U.S. Plans for Asia 1949

Telegram No. 5855
December 17, 1949


For Secretary of State from Oliver Franks [British ambassador to the USA]

At dinner with Hume Wrong and myself Acheson made several remarks about the Far East and the Indian Ocean. He was talking at large so that to my mind importance attaches to the drift of his thoughts rather than their detailed expression.

2. He started off by saying that he thought the world across the Pacific Ocean would be the principal preoccupation of the State Department in 1950. He and his advisers had changed their views on what were likely to be the immediate consequences of the successful conquest and occupation of China by the Communists. They now thought there was likely to be early expansion south and east beyond the borders of China. This expansion would be especially dangerous, if it took place, where there were considerable Chinese settlements.

3. He had been scratching together what dollars he could and believed he could lay hands on about 75 millions. He expected to use this in Indonesia and Indo-China with possibly a little bit of help to spare for Siam. With the aid these dollars represented, quite a job could be done in building up the regimes in these countries. At this point Acheson interpolated a paean of praise about French achievements in Indo-China. They had done far more than they had ever let on.


4. […] His mind was moving in terms of some rough geographical division of responsibilities. The Americans would look after Indonesia, Philippines, Indo-China with a little to spare for Siam. The Commonwealth would see to the help of the countries in the Indian Ocean. He had in mind especially Burma: then there was our own position in Malaya and our interest overlapping theirs in Siam. Acheson clearly was hoping that in some way India and the United Kingdom would be able to tidy up the mess in Burma so as to prevent the Chinese appearing over the hump.

5. He said that he would like to talk with Mike Pearson about these ideas before the Colombo Conference and this was tentatively arranged with Hume Wrong.


Source: British Public Records Office, F0371, F18982/10345/61, Oliver Franks, "U.S. Plans for Asia 1949," December 17, 1949

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