793.94/8715: Telegram

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

263. Our 262, July 12, 9 a.m.

1.
We learn on reliable authority that Chiang Kai-shek, July 9, told a large gathering of officials at Killing that he was despatching six divisions of troops to North China; according to another source, he also stated that China would fight. This latter source states that several divisions will move up from Hankow on the Peiping–Hankow Railway and others on the Tientsin–Pukow Railways. The press reports troop movements north from Hankow.
2.
Competent observers here consider the situation one moving toward war; they point out that if the National Government should hold to the former plan of surrendering North China rather than resist Japanese aggression there the National Government’s existence [Page 139]would be seriously jeopardized because (1) it is believed to have pledged resistance to Japan as part of the settlement of the Sian revolt and nonresistance would cause the alienation of the Communist forces in the northwest who are about to be incorporated into the Government’s armies; (2) the southwestern irreconcilables, Pai Chung Hsi and Li Tsung Jen who render little more than lip service to the Government would presumably demand Chinese military action or a new government; (3) the position of the Suiyuan, Shansi and Shantung authorities would be endangered by extensive Japanese control in Hopei and Chahar and they would also be expected to bring pressure upon the Government to make a stand.
3.
The general impression here is that the Japanese actions constitute a challenge which the National Government must take up energetically if it is to survive as the Government of a unified China; whether or not resistance will be effective would seem to depend in part for the time being upon the 29th Army of Sung Che Yuan who has reportedly reached Tientsin from Loling.
4.
To the Department, Peiping, Tokyo.
Peck