793.94/13732: Telegram

The First Secretary of Embassy in China (Salisbury) to the Secretary of State

516. Embassy’s 453 [455], July 20, 11 a.m.72

Reliable foreigners who have recently visited areas of Central and West Hopei and East Shansi under the control of Chinese guerrillas, associated with and now considered a part of the former Eighth Route Army of Communist troops, report that their organization is growing in efficiency and numerical strength. The headquarters of one of the four organized guerrilla districts in Hopei claims that there are 200,000 organized guerrillas in that province, that their chief lack is rifle ammunition, but that they are well supplied with hand grenades of their own manufacture and are obtaining considerable amounts of explosives. (It was reported in the second week of August that several bridges had been blown up near Techow on the Tientsin–Pukow Railway and that the line was interrupted for over 1 week. Several wrecks were also reported on the Peiping–Hankow Railway in Hopei, with at least 200 casualties in one wreck south of Paoting. At least one train was completely wrecked in July on the Shihkiachuang–Taiyuan Railway presumably with heavy casualties. Yesterday afternoon’s express from Mukden was derailed between Tangku and Tientsin.)
According to Chinese sources, the Kuomintang Commander Lu Chung-lin who was appointed in June by the National Government to be Governor of Hopei has crossed the Japanese lines and is established near Taming, South Hopei, and is engaged in inspecting the various guerrilla organizations.
Guerrilla activities north and east of Peiping have continued. Within last 2 days there was a skirmish not far from one of the [Page 270] north gates of Peiping; and for over a month the Tientsin–Peiping motor highway has been considered too dangerous for use because of guerrillas and bandit activities.
Notwithstanding their successes in harassing Japanese outposts and lines of communications and in killing small detachments of Japanese, observers in general express surprise at the comparative ineffectiveness of the guerrillas as a military force, especially at their failure to destroy railways under Japanese control. Many observers, however, consider that their effectiveness is being increased as their training and organization progress, and it is reliably reported that Japanese attacks upon villages by planes and troops, and the policy of fear which is also reliably reported as being carried out by the Japanese against villages thought to harbor guerrillas, has turned the countryside population into active supporters of the organized irregulars, who in general treat the people well, with one result that frequently the survivers of Japanese attacks on civilians join with the guerrillas for active service. There are many indications that the guerrilla movement will continue to grow in Hopei, Shantung, and Shansi and that irregular activities, already a formidable problem to the Japanese military, will become a menace of increasingly greater magnitude.

Repeated to Chungking, Nanking. By mail to Tokyo.

  1. Not printed.