793.94/12863: Telegram

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

207. I have examined again my 76 of February 3, 2 p.m.,25 and I find little to add to the estimate of the situation then attempted. During interval since then Captain Carlson26 returned from a trip in Shansi [Page 154] which took him throughout area occupied by so-called Communists and partisans. He brought eloquent testimony of the thoroughness with which the country people throughout all that area are being aroused and trained in guerrilla tactics which have prevented the Japanese Armed Forces making their hold effective beyond lines of railway communication. Commander Overesch27 has been down from Peiping and says that areas south of and to within sight of walls of Peiping are roused in opposition. Colonel Stilwell has returned from a trip to the northwest which took him to Sining in Chinghai, and tells me that throughout area which he traveled the people are being drilled and aroused. More recently Captain Carlson has returned from a trip which enabled him to watch 3 days of the fighting at Taierchuang, and tells me that Chinese troops in the field there won a well deserved victory over Japanese troops, administering the first defeat that Japanese troops have suffered in the field in modern times. All of this confirms my belief that Japan will have to use a great deal more force than it now has in the field if it hopes to pacify and begin reconstruction operations even in those areas close to Shanghai and Tientsin.

Conditions here at Hankow have changed from an atmosphere of pessimism to one of dogged optimism. The Government is more united under Chiang and there is a feeling that the future is not entirely hopeless due to recent failure of Japanese arms at Hsuchow. This optimism is based more upon the hope of wearing out the Japanese than any expectation of being able by force to drive out Japanese forces now on Chinese soil. Realization of this hope is dependent upon the Japanese economic factor which is a highly speculative quantity. Chinese ability to maintain a stubborn long time resistance is fairly good, as the Chinese can feed themselves indefinitely while Japanese forces in China will have to be supplied continually at colossal expense.
I find no evidence of a desire for a peace by compromise among Chinese, and doubt whether the Government could persuade its army or its people to accept such a peace. The spirit of resistance is slowly spreading among the people, who are awakening to a feeling that this is their war. Japanese air raids in the interior and atrocities by Japanese soldiers upon civilian population are responsible for this stiffening of the people.

Repeated to Peiping and Shanghai. Shanghai please relay to Tokyo and show Commander-in-Chief.28

  1. Ante, p. 64.
  2. Capt. Evans F. Carlson, U. S. M. C, Navy Department language officer in China.
  3. Commander Harvey B. Overesch, Naval Attaché in China.
  4. Admiral Harry E. Yarnell, United States Asiatic Fleet.