The Counselor of Embassy in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 12—6:43 a.m.]
262. Our 261 [260?], July 10, 2 p.m.
I asked the Chinese Minister of War61 July 11, 6 p.m., whether he thought recent events would develop into a war and he replied that [Page 138]this decision rested entirely with the Japanese; confronted with their “bandit methods” the Chinese could only resist. I inquired whether if war could not be avoided the Chinese Government would not prefer even at a sacrifice to postpone it for 1 or 2 years in order to complete preparations. He replied that it would be difficult ever to say that preparations were complete and that although China was very unwilling to fight, it would do so at once if Japan decided on war. He said that neither Wanpinghsien nor the Bridge would be surrendered. He expressed a firm belief that the Japanese planned in advance occupation of these points and suggested that perhaps the Kwantung army, and especially Itagaki, Chief of Staff, in precipitating the incidents beginning July 7, midnight, had acted without sanction of the Japanese Government.
Questioned regarding Chinese military measures and strategy he was evasive but he did deny emphatically that in the event of war there would be preliminary withdrawal to a line near the Yellow River. He disbelieved theory that Japan felt emboldened to provoke hostilities with China at this moment because of supposed disloyalty of Soviet forces in Siberia and insisted that the Soviet Army is dependable in morale.
The Minister of War returned by plane July 10 from Szechwan where he had been nationalizing the different armies. He said satisfactory results achieved.
He complained of brain fatigue and I ascribed this to the exhausting heat and to prescribed complex and heavy responsibilities.
Sent to Peiping, Tokyo.
- Gen. Ho Ying-chin.↩