MINUTES OF ZHOU ENLAI’S MEETING WITH [PIERRE] MENDES-FRANCECITATION SHARE DOWNLOAD
get citationZhou Enlai and Mendes-France discuss the defense organization of Southeast Asia. Enlai expresses concern that the United States intends to organize this group, and that increasing U.S. influence and alliance will make restoration of peace in the region meaningless. Mendes-France responds that the Paris meeting did not consider this formation of this alliance and that he has no knowledge of U.S. intention to form this alliance. The men also briefly discuss resolution of two other issues: how to draw the demarcation line and when to hold elections."Minutes of Zhou Enlai’s Meeting with [Pierre] Mendes-France" July 17, 1954, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, CFMA. Obtained by CWIHP and translated for CWIHP by Li Xiaobing. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111070
VIEW DOCUMENT IN
Time: Beginning at 4:45 p.m., 17 July 1954
Location: Mendes-France's Mansion
Chinese participants: Zhou Enlai, Li Kenong, Wang Bingnan, and Dong Ningchuan (translator)
French participants: Pierre Mendes-France, Jean Chauvel, Jacques Guillermaz, and one translator
Our opinions are gradually getting closer now. We don't have much time, and we should reach some solutions quickly. At the present, the two issues that have been most debated are how to draw the [demarcation] line and when to hold elections. I talked to Mr. Prime Minister during the last two meetings [and said that] that we wanted to push the conference forward for a settlement. [Passage excised by the Department of Archives of the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs.] Now two problems remain. The three-person talks tonight and the meeting between Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Pham Van Dong should find some solutions. However, I'd like now to discuss another problem, that is, the so-called Southeast Asia Defense Pact.
After the Paris meeting, there is some recent propaganda that the United States intends to organize a Southeast Asian group, and that it also push the three countries in Indochina to participate in the organization. That is much different from what Mr. Mendes-France, Mr. Eden, and I have been talking about. This problem causes us concern. Our wish is that a restoration of peace will be realized in Indochina, and that Laos and Cambodia will become peaceful, independent, friendly, and neutral countries. If they join America's alliance and establish American bases, then the restoration of peace becomes meaningless. It will increase America's influence, and decrease the influence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. This is not beneficial for the Indochinese people or the French people. According to our conversations in the past meetings, I think it shouldn't happen like this. But there are so many rumors out there, as if Paris has some kind of promise. Thus, I'd like to talk to Mr. Prime Minister directly and frankly.
I appreciate that Mr. Premier recalls our conversations in the past meetings and intends to maintain a consistent stance. I also want to maintain my previous position.
After our two meetings, as Mr. Premier knows, there has been some development in the situation. Our deadline—I should say my deadline—is now coming soon. But we still face many difficulties.
[Passage excised by the Department of Archives of the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs.]
I can't talk about this issue in detail. It should be dealt with directly by Mr. Pham Van Dong and Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. Prime Minister had said that the current problems are not only to draw the line, but also including the political problems. I have told this to Mr. Pham Van Dong and Mr. [Vyacheslav] Molotov. I guess that it may be easier to solve the two problems if we can connect them together. Tonight's meeting may bring us some results.
I can now respond to Mr. Premier's concerns about the Southeast Asia alliance. I think it unnecessary for Mr. Premier to worry about this. The Paris meeting did not consider any kind of Southeast Asia alliance to include the three countries of Indochina. As far as I know, the United States does not intend to establish any military bases in Indochina. Therefore we don't need to worry about any change to our previous position in the past meetings. Certainly, if the war can't be stopped, it will be a different story. If the cease-fire becomes a reality, some country may come up with its own separate statement to strengthen its original position. Nevertheless, I want to assure Mr. Premier that we do not consider any Southeast Asia alliance to include the three countries of Indochina. Please trust me, this is my word without any reservation.
Thank you for your explanation. What we hope to see is the expansion of a peaceful region. If the United States fixes a Southeast Asia pact, including the three countries of Indochina, then, all of our efforts to push these compromises will become fruitless. That is why I want to mention my concerns.
The best way to consolidate future peace is to solve the current problems reasonably. If Laos can be an example, we hope that Laos can join the French Union, and that it won't sign any military pact with other countries. Following the regulations under the France-Laos agreements, no foreign military base can be established there. But Laos' problems remain unresolved. The Vietnamese government put forward some unrealistic requests. They suggested their regrouping area stretch from north to south nearly 1,000 kilometers. It is difficult to accept. I hope Mr. Premier can give Mr. Pham Van Dong some advice as you did on many occasions and ask him to make more realistic considerations.
It is proper to discuss the Laos problems with Vietnam's problems such as drawing the [demarcation] line and [when to hold] elections. We have read the draft of the second political statement of the French delegation. We think it should include these issues, such as non-establishment of foreign military bases and no military alliances with foreign countries. I have mentioned this in my speeches on 16 and 19 June. Otherwise, there won't be any guarantee.
It is said that French military representatives have drafted a cease-fire proposal for Laos. [The proposal] requests that, after foreign troops withdraw, local resistance forces should regroup at certain points. Vietnam, however, asks for some pre-determined areas for the regrouping of the resistance forces, instead of regrouping at [certain] points. I think that the military staff through their negotiations can solve this problem. Moreover, this also relates to the problem of drawing the [demarcation] line in Vietnam. My hope is that Mr. Mendes-France can talk directly to Mr. Pham Van Dong again. The three-person meeting tonight may also discuss this problem.
I have asked the staff of the French delegation to contact the staff of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Hopefully, there will be some progress. Of course, the meeting with the two presidents tonight is also very important for me.
Mr. Chauvel said a little while ago that the French delegation staff had suggested to the staff of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam's delegation [that France and the DRV should] work together and draft a political statement based on common ground. However, this task is somehow suspended right now. Hopefully, Mr. Pham Van Dong can give a push to this task.
Besides political issues, the discussions over the cease-fire should also identify some of the main common points that may produce an agreement. Otherwise, the whole package of the truce agreement can't be put together overnight as a booklet.
I fully agree with such an idea.
Today is the 17th. It will be a success only if some agreements can be achieved on the major issues within the next two days.
I am very glad to hear this word. I fully agree.