793.94/8295: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State

314. My 312, October 23, 10 a.m.

1.
The Minister of War insisted to me today that the object of the journey of General Chiang to Sian was really bandit suppression and was occasioned by the congregation of most of the Communist forces in the Northwest. He ridiculed the idea that any peaceful arrangement might be reached with the Communist leaders although he himself recalled that some time ago they issued manifesto announcing willingness to fight the Japanese under the direction of the National Government. The Minister of War seemed uncertain how long General Chiang would remain in Sian. The Minister of War said it was impossible that an airfield had been prepared at Paotow for the Japanese (see my October 23, 11 a.m.45) since “Provincial Chairman Fu Tso Yi is not that kind of man”. He said recently the Japanese sent about 100 workmen including many Koreans and Japanese to Paotow to prepare a landing field but meeting with obstruction recalled the party to Tientsin.
2.
I have seen a letter quoting Donald as saying on October 22, that General Chiang had been talking war with Japan for some weeks [Page 365]which indicated a great change in attitude. Donald stated that General Chiang when leaving for Sian told his close friends that if everything went well they should celebrate his birthday October 31 in Kuling but that otherwise they must come to Sian. Donald interpreted the second alternative as indicating that Chiang foresaw the possible necessity of remaining at Sian in connection with actual or prospective hostilities with Japan. Unofficial but apparently reliable information is that if Chinese or Manchukuo troops invade Suiyuan Province local forces will resist but if Japanese troops take part National Government forces will immediately join resistance.
3.
Sent to the Department, Peiping.
Peck
  1. Not printed.