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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 09, 1954


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    Zhou Enlai recaps the Indochina discussion that took place at the Geneva conference. Participants discussed a ceasefire, and supervision by an international committee. Enlai notes that his suggestion to invite the resistance governments in Laos and Cambodia to attend the conference produced debate.
    "Cable from Zhou Enlai, 'Regarding the Situation of the First Plenary Session'," May 09, 1954, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 206-Y0049. Translated by Chen Zhihong.
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(Top secret)

Chairman [Mao Zedong], Comrade [Liu] Shaoqi, and the Central Committee:

(1) The nine-country meeting [the Geneva Conference] on discussing the Indochina issue was finally convened yesterday. Bidault took the lead to speak at the conference. The main points of his speech were to deny the Democratic Republic of Vietnam as an opponent in the war and to regard it as a rebelling force. Bidault's proposal, similar to the proposals that Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek] used to deal with us [in the Chinese civil war], concentrated exclusively on a military ceasefire. Bidault also favored supervision by an international committee and a guarantee provided by the participants of the Geneva Conference. The essence of this proposal represented a preparatory step by the United States toward measures of collective security in Southeast Asia, and it is apparent that it had been made in accordance with America's ideas. This proposal, of course, should not be treated as something that deserved further discussion and bargaining. But still it revealed the great role that America's intrigues on intervention played for the warlike factions in France. This French proposal did not mention anything about the political issue in Indochina. It is possible that Bidault intentionally left the political issue for Bao Dai at the next session, thus [allowing Bao Dai to] discuss it [while] pretending to be independent.

(2) After Bidault's presentation, [DRV Foreign Minister] Comrade Pham Van Dong spoke, introducing the question of inviting the representatives of the two resistance governments in Laos and Cambodia to attend the conference. A debate immediately followed at the conference. For details [please see] the report of the Xinhua News Agency. Lastly, Eden, as the chair of the session, announced that the questions under debate should be left for discussion and solution outside of the conference.

(3) Considering the situation of the debate at the conference today, it is not proper to raise again the question of asking the conference to listen to the opinions of the representatives of the two resistance governments of Laos and Cambodia at formal sessions. Therefore, I plan to convey the proposal [inviting the representatives of the two resistance government to Geneva] to the Soviet side by letter, and let the Soviet side put forward this question in discussions
outside of the conference.

(4) Comrade Pham Van Dong plans to speak next Monday, introducing the eight-point proposal that has already been prepared. In addition, a note on organizing a committee of supervision by neutral countries will be added to the conditions of ceasefire, so as to help the implementation of a ceasefire, as well as to counterbalance Bidault's proposal on international supervision. The discussion with the Soviet and Vietnamese friends after the session reached the decision that for now we will not name which countries should participate in the committee of supervision by neutral countries. When it becomes necessary we will propose that India, Pakistan, Poland, and Czechoslovakia [be members of the committee]. If the other side insists that five members [of the committee] are needed, we may choose one more from Indonesia and Burma. We wait for the instruction by the Central Committee whether or not such a proposal is proper.

(5) The whole text of the French proposal is as follows. (omitted)

Zhou Enlai

9 May 1954


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