2021 年 67 巻 1 号 p. 1-17
The People’s Republic of China was founded on October the 1st 1949. This confronted the non-socialist states with the difficult question of whether diplomatically recognizing the “new China” or not. The United States advocated non-recognition, while the United Kingdom together with other more liberal states favored early recognition. How did, however, a small state like the Union of Burma respond to this epoch-making change of the international order?
Amongst the non-socialist states the UOB was the first that took the daring decision to recognize the PRC—on December the 16th 1949. Preceding studies failed to illuminate why and how the UOB government took the decision to recognize the PRC on that particular date. Based on newly available archival materials of the ministries of foreign affairs of Myanmar, India, China as well as those of the US and the UK, this article tries to answer this question.
Chapter 1 overviews the diplomatic relations between the UOB and the Republic of China. Chapter 2 traces the China policy of the UOB from the end of 1948 to mid 1949. Chapter 3 examines the diplomacy of the UOB to recognize the PRC after its foundation. Chapter 4 illuminates the process of diplomatic contacts between the UOB and the PRC governments.
This paper argues that for two reasons the UOB government recognized the PRC on December the 16th 1949: the first was that the civil war in neighboring Yunnan Province became imminent for Burma in early December; the second was the decision of the UK government to postpone the recognition of the PRC on December the 15th. For the UOB the nightmare scenario was that the People’s Liberation Army of the PRC would intrude into Burmese territory to assist domestic communist insurgencies under the pretext of pursuing the Kuomintang Army.
Desperately trying to prevent an intrusion of its territory by the PLA, the Burmese government, based on wishful thinking, came to the conclusion that by being amongst the first non-socialist states recognizing the PRC, Burma could win the favor of the PRC and escape intrusion. Under these critical circumstances, the UOB announced the recognition of the PRC, even abandoning consultation with the government of India.
To the surprise of the UOB, the PRC, determined to take advantage of this opportunity, unilaterally stipulated that diplomatic relations could only be established after negotiations in Beijing. Thus the UOB unintentionally set a precedent for China of how to establishing diplomatic relations with other non-socialist states, opening a new window of opportunity for Mao Zedong.