The Consul General at Hong Kong (Southard) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 19, 1938.]
Sir: I have the honor, in continuation of the Consulate General’s previous despatches on the transit and transshipment of war materials at Hong Kong, to report that I have just been informed by Mr. H. S. Wu of Inter-Continent China, Limited, (this organization and its purposes were discussed in the Consulate General’s Strictly Confidential No. 28 of December 2nd, 193739) that arrivals of airplanes via Hong Kong for the Chinese Government are increasing and that transshipment is keeping Inter-Continent China quite busy.[Page 548]
Mr. Wu summarized outstanding orders placed by the Chinese Government on which deliveries are now beginning, at about 1000 planes from Russia, about 300 planes from France, and about 200 each from the United States, England and Germany. He claims that these planes have all been definitely contracted for and that complete delivery is expected within six months.
An arrangement must, says Mr. Wu, be made for trucking at least some of these planes from Hong Kong to Canton by highway because the railway cannot carry them all and the bigger ones (bombers) cannot be so loaded as to clear tunnels on the Kowloon-Canton Railway. He asserts that the highway from the frontier of the British Leased Territory to Canton is now ready for use. I asked him if arrangement had been made to set up any of the planes here in order that they might be flown into China. He replied that arrangements would soon, he thought, be completed with the local British authorities to permit the setting up within the Colony limits of any planes of British origin. They could then promptly go under their own power into China.
Considerable trouble is at this moment being experienced, said Mr. Wu, with five very large American bombers recently landed in Hong Kong which are too large for shipment on the Railway and for the setting up of which, within the Colony limits, permission has not yet been obtainable from the British authorities.
My informant further stated that about one hundred and twenty-five anti-aircraft guns intended for transshipment at Hong Kong have lately been taken over by the local authorities and installed here in connection with Colony anti-aircraft defenses. This office has lately made various reports on Hong Kong preparations against possible attacks from the air.
Mr. Wu cites these substantial orders for airplanes as first-class evidence of Chinese intention to continue indefinitely the fight against Japan. In reply to a question he stated that financial arrangements for the payment of the planes ordered had been completed, and mentioned the figure of 600,000,000 francs as the amount so far expended in France for the purpose. He admitted that there would probably be much difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of trained pilots to man these planes, but was of the opinion that the training of Chinese pilots by American instructors was progressing and that several foreign pilots, from Europe and America, were under engagement for China.
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