893.00/10896: Telegram

The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

431. Following from Minister Johnson, Nanking, June 10, 5 p.m.:

“Have just returned from trip up river to Hankow in course of which I visited Ruling. Present situation in valley as follows:

Hunan Province is now held by Chang Fah-kwei, Li Tsung-jen and Pai Chung-hsi with anti-Nationalist troops brought from the Kwangsi-Kwangtung campaign. They are being followed by Nationalist forces from Kwangtung and I am informed by the British Consul here that British Consulate at Changsha reports these Kwangtung forces to have arrived at Hengchow in Hunan, thus threatening Chang Fah-kwei’s rear. Central Government is at same time moving troops up river that have been brought from Kwangtung for use in defending [Page 17] Wuhan against attack now threatening from Li Tsung-jen and Pai [Chung-]hsi at Changsha.
Province of Hupeh (except line of Kin-Han Railway), part of Kwangtung and large parts of Anhwei appear to be under complete control of forces calling themselves Communists or Red armies. Kiangsi Province is typical. Nationalist Government controls the city of Nanchang and the short line of railway connecting Nanchang with Kiukiang. Self-styled “Red armies” practically control all [of the] rest, preventing intercourse, so that Kiukiang and Nanchang are under necessity of importing foreign rice. Country people are apparently supporting Red bands in belief that they will bring freedom from the military and rents. Government here is worried over question whether Chang Fah-kwei will be able to make common cause with self-styled Reds and receive support in his efforts to take Nanchang and possibly Nanking. Reds reputed to have some 10,000 fairly well supplied and organized forces in Kiangsi. Self-styled Red bands in provinces named are reported to number about 50,000 men.
Fighting on Lung-Hai Railway at Hsuchow is at stalemate at present. Hsuchow is crowded with wounded soldiers who are uncared for. Slightly wounded soldiers are hanging about hospital at Nanking refusing to leave to make room for serious cases. Government forces have been making strenuous efforts to capture Lanfang on Lung-Hai Railway for nearly 3 weeks but have failed.
Tsinanfu is on the verge of being evacuated by the Nationalist armies.
It is said here in authoritative circles that it is the intention of the Government forces to make a drive against Chengchow on Kin-Han line.
There continues to be a feeling here that the Nationalist Government can make headway and emerge from what at present looks like a hopeless situation.”

For the Minister:
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