793.94/13623: Telegram

The Consul General at Hankow (Josselyn) to the Secretary of State

The pronounced pessimism of Chinese civil and military officials noticeable during the past weeks concerning the progress of Sino-Japanese hostilities has been modified by the recent Manchurian border disturbances.51 The hope of third power intervention on behalf of China is now at its liveliest. The more so because a major conflict between Japan and the Soviet Union promises, with a shift of the main theater of Japanese operations to the northeast, the possibility of a relaxation in fighting Japanese, the uncompromising and exacting character of which warfare is most uncongenial to the temperament of the average high Chinese official.

A Russo-Japanese war at the present time would however tend to split the Chinese united front, a large portion of the Kuomintang being more anti-Russian than anti-Japanese. The Communists and Leftist member of the Kuomintang therefore view the split in the northeast with mixed feelings, fearing a recrudescence of domestic dissension. [Page 254] From the point of view of the Chinese Reds the most advantageous moment for a Russo-Japanese war would be after the Japanese capture of Wuhan when the Central Government may be expected to be critically weakened and the Communists relatively strengthened through a continuation of the process whereby the Central Government has been losing the principal lines of communications and cities to the Japanese and the remainder of the territory behind the Japanese lines to the Communists.

Repeated to the Ambassador, Peiping, Shanghai. Shanghai please repeat to Tokyo.

  1. For hostilities between Japanese and Soviet forces, see pp. 441 ff.