IF it were possible to know what Russia's intentions really are, and what the new China's intentions really are, and how close' the association between Peking and Moscow really is, the Western Powers and the United Nations generally would find it less difficult to shape their policies than it is today. That is particularly true in a week in which Russia and China have both made new moves, the one ostensibly in the direction of peace, the other threatening something like war. The aggressive tendencies of both Powers are undisguised. Russia, her expan- sion possibly arrested for the moment, has brought all Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia and Greece, under her virtual suzerainty, and has established in Eastern Germany a Communist regime supported by armed forces of the nature of a standing army. China, swept by a bitter anti-West propaganda, is without the smallest warrant invading Tibet, is with hardly more warrant sending troops to fight the United forces in Korea, is giving every kind of aid and comfort to the Viet Minh troops attacking the French in Indo-China, and is pretty certainly lending assis- tance of undetermined volume to the bandits in Malaya. - 'These are sombre facts, and the first thing to do about Them is to recognise them. The next is to discover what reasonable demands, if any of the demands are reasonable, Russia and China have to make on the West. In the case of China that is easy. Mao Tse-tung demands that his Government be accepted, in particular at Lake Success, as the de facto, and in consequence by this time the de jure, successor of the discredited and defeated Chiang Kai-shek administration. That is not an unreasonable demand. Whether we like it or not Mao Tse-tung is in undis- puted command ' of the whole mainland of China, and has established that position by steps so methodical and consistently" successful as to exclude any hope (if it be a case for hope) of his regime being overthrown and some other less antagonistic to the West replacing it. The British Government has fully realised that, and though it would have been more satisfactory if the British recognition of the new Chinese Government could have synchronised with similar action by the American and Common- wealth Governments Mr. Bevin must still be held justified in the action he took. Unfortunately, partly as the result of continued' cold-shouldering at Lake Success (for which Great Britain could not fairly be held responsible) the British envoy in Peking has been treated with scant courtesy, and his opportunities for making contact with the Government there are almost non- existent. And though a potential British Ambassador to China, Sir Esler Dening, is at present in Tokio there has been no sign that Mao Tse-tung desires the establishment of full diplomatic relations at present.
This is particularly to be regretted, because what aggravates she situation in Eastern Asia more than anything else is the absence of all effective contact with Mao Tse-tung's Government. The only channel of communication possessed by any Common- wealth country (apart from the gravely handicapped British representative) consists in the presence of an Indian Ambassador at Peking in the person of the very able Mr. Panikkar ; and his influence is no doubt considerably diminished by the protests Mr. Nehru has most justifiably made at the unprovoked Chinese invasion of Tibet. There is little doubt that most or all of these difficulties could be surmounted if China were given the place which she holds to be her rightful due in the Security Council and in the General' Assembly of the United Nations. It is hard to deny the justice of the claim. China, not a particular Chinese Government. took her place as an original member of the United Nations, and now that the Government of that day has been ousted from all Chinese territory except one outlying island (where it owes its survival in part at any rate to the American fleet) it is plainly an open and continuing provocation to Peking that a representative of Chiang Kai-shek should be speaking and voting in the name of China at Lake Success. It would be better that the Chinese seat should be vacant than that it should be thus improperly filled. In this matter the validity of Russia's protests must for once be recognised.
Unhappily, by putting herself in the wrong in Korea, China has made it particularly difficult for the United Nations to come to terms with her if it would. Indeed, until the Korean situation is clearer, it is hard to see what can be done. Yet that something be done is imperative. If there is anything certain it is that no Western or any other Power covets a square inch of Chinese soil or Contemplates 'any action of any kind detrimental to China's interests. If China is Communist, that is her own affair, and unwelcome, though the extension of Communism anywhere is, it is for many reasons preferable to have that reprehensible doctrine represented in Asia by China than by Russia. It is at this moment just possible that out of evil some good may come. The Peking Government has not disguised its desire to establish toueh with the United Nations, and quite apart from that it has laid various complaints about the action of United Nations members ; if they are to be investigated, the right of a Peking representative to take part in the discussions should be recognised. The new complication in Korea may provide another good reason for contact, provided the Chinese once make it clear that their desire is simply to protect their frontier and do not attempt to drive United Nations troops out of North Korea. Here the development of events must be awaited, every possible endeavour being meanwhile made to convince the Chinese that their frontier is in no danger. The supreme concern of the United Nations should be to avoid driving China irretrievably into the arms of Russia. To continue to exclude her from. the United Nations will inevitably have that effect. She may make exclusion unavoid- able by her own actions, but now that the American elections, with the restraints their imminence imposed on President Truman and Mr. Acheson, are out of the way, some hesitations may be _resolved and some way of opening doors devised.
Meanwhile the Western Powe-ts have a reply to make to Russia's proposal for a Four-Power Conference to discuss the future of Germany. It is a situation which demands unusual diplomatic discretion. The complete deadlock created by Russia in Four-Power talks in the past and in the interminable dis- cussions regarding a treaty with Austria suggests that talks on a treaty with Germany, particularly when the Russians appear to be taking their stand on the completely inadmissible proposals of the recent conference of Communist States at Prague, Can only be marked by the same futility. But there must be no banging of doors in advance. Russia has in some respects been altering her tactics of late. After a period of boycott of various United Nations organisations and committees she has resumed participation in almost all of them. Since her representatives there are in touch with the Western Powers' representatives it may be possible by informal explorations to discover whether a meeting of the four Foreign Ministers could yield any positive advantage. Certainly, while on general grounds it is desirable that a meeting should take place, the scope and basis of the meeting must be agreed and clearly defined first. In any case s common understanding between the Allied Powers is imperative. There is little doubt that the threat to that common understanding created by the unfortunate nature and the unfortunate method of France's declaration against German participation, except on invidious terms, in an Atlantic Treaty army has suggested to Russia that an opportunity of catching the Western Powers divided should not be missed. Even so, to conclude at this stage that any conversations with Russia would be purposeless would be wholly wrong. Talks that led to nothing could not make the general situation much worse than it is. And that they might lead to something is not completely impossible.