793.94/13654

Memorandum on Military Supplies Entering China 93

It is estimated that over seventy-five percent of the military supplies imported into China since the start of the hostilities have been routed through Hong Kong. The routes of entry for the remainder in order of their importance are French Indo-China, Russian Turkestan, Kwangchowan (French leased territory on the Kwangtung [Page 214] coast 220 miles southwest of Hong Kong), Macao, and Burma. A negligible amount of military supplies may enter China from Siberia via Urga. Small quantities may pass through the Japanese blockade into ports on the China Coast.

Extensive road and railway construction and improvement are now in progress with a view toward bettering communications with countries bordering China and so facilitate shipments of military supplies. In Yunnan, the caravan route from Talifu to Burma is being improved into a road suitable for wheeled traffic, and an extensive road net is being constructed connecting Yunnanfu, the terminus of the French railway from Hanoi, with roads leading north, east and west. In Kwangsi railroads and roads are under construction connecting the railway terminus at Langson, French Indo-China, with the Canton-Hankow railway via Nanning and Kweilin. The long route from Russian Turkestan has in large part been made suitable for heavy hauls in all weathers.

The material imported consisted primarily of the following:

(a)
Aircraft and aircraft supplies.
(b)
Explosives and other components for the manufacture of bombs, artillery ammunition, trench mortar ammunition, small arms ammunition and hand grenades.
(c)
Small arms ammunition.
(d)
Artillery ammunition.
(e)
Machine guns and small arms.
(f)
Antiaircraft guns and ammunition.
(g)
Antitank guns and ammunition.
(h)
Artillery and trench mortars.
(i)
Tanks and armored cars.
(j)
Aircraft bombs.

Little artillery (other than as indicated above) has been imported since the start of hostilities.

Germany, until its recent decision to cease shipping munitions to China, furnished the largest percentage as well as the largest variety of military supplies. Other countries furnishing munitions in order of their probable importance are Russia, Italy, England, France, United States, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark. The heavy German participation in the munition trade to China is probably due to a barter agreement between the two countries concluded in 1935 and to the presence of the German advisers. Practically all the materials purchased from Germany can be procured elsewhere provided China can secure the necessary credit or provide foreign exchange.

Chinese claim they now have sufficient supplies on hand for one more year of warfare.

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It is believed that the military supplies now being imported into China together with the reserve on hand are sufficient to maintain the Chinese forces in defensive operations on the present extensive scale. It is estimated that a minimum reserve of four months’ supply of essential military supplies are now in China either in arsenals and supply dumps or en route thereto.

From the standpoint of supply, continued large scale Chinese operations are contingent upon the maintenance of China’s purchasing power abroad, upon keeping the present route via Hong Kong open until efficient substitute routes can be established, and upon continued Chinese occupation of the areas containing important Government arsenals, particularly those in the Hankow area.

  1. Apparently prepared in the Division of Far Eastern Affairs as part of a study, dated July 5, of the “Sino-Japanese conflict”.