893.00/14258: Telegram

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

431. Following is a summary of data received by me from Captain Carlson76 covering his recently completed tour of 3 months duration over a distance of 1700 miles in the northwestern provinces.

[Page 274]
At Yenan, center of Communist activities, he visited various leaders; though impressed with Mao Tse Tung’s undoubted ability, he felt Lo Fu, Secretary General of the party and a recluse, to be the most capable official of the Communist Party. He found Shensi to be of great strategic value to the Chinese as it provides the route whereby supplies reach Suiyuan, Shansi and even Hopei; consequently Chinese defenses along the Yellow River were ascertained to be formidable, with central troops stationed in South and North Shensi and with Communist troops in the central section.
Conditions in Suiyuan were observed to be unfavorable to China owing to mediocre leadership and faulty coordination of military leaders (Fu Tso Yi, Teng Pao Shan, Ma Chan Shan and Ho Chu Kuo), poor discipline and lack of training among military forces, and oppression of the people by the military.
The Chinese were observed to control Shansi south of the Great Wall as well as South Hopei except for railway lines, some highways and a few important cities and political and military developments in these provinces were found to have undergone marked improvement since his former visit in January largely due to the success of the Communists in organizing and gaining the support of the populace under a fixed program designed, (1) to prevent Japan from gaining political control of the areas in question, (2) to prevent commercial or other intercourse with Japanese dominated areas, (3) to obstruct Japanese exploitation of the natural resources of these areas.
In Shantung friction was observed to exist between Shen Hung Lieh, chairman of the province, and the Soviets who have penetrated into the province and who desire to expand their system of organization of the people along the lines followed in Hopei and Shansi. Shen has not accepted the proposals and has hesitated to affiliate the people under his own supervision. He has however restored communications and has taken steps to organize a local army of about 120,000 men.
Carlson emphasizes that the Communist plan of organizing the people is meeting with marked success whereas similar efforts on the part of the Central Government have fallen short. He observed that the Soviets are winning the support of the people, that in consequence they now control a large section of North China extending from Kansu to the sea, and that their strength and influence are constantly on the increase. Carlson believes that the Communists intend to remain loyal to the Central Government during the course of hostilities and says they profess to hope to be able to continue the united front after the war, looking ultimately to the establishment in China of a democratic form of Government, but with official control of banks, mines, railways, public utilities, et cetera, and with cooperatives as the basis of distribution. Subject to the above mentioned limitations, [Page 275] private enterprise would be permitted and the investment of foreign capital encouraged from nations treating China as an equal. He pointed out, however, that if a rift should occur, the Communists will be in a strong position vis-à-vis the Central Government.
I believe Carlson has made a competent and sound survey of the trend of developments in the areas in which he has traveled. If support is forthcoming from Soviet Russia, Chinese Communist influence will doubtless continue to grow in North China and Japan, which has yet to crush the Chiang regime, will find it more difficult as time passes to eradicate this growing power in the north, while the possibility of large scale Japanese exploitation of North China seems remote so long as the Communists are able to carry on their activities in that area.

Repeated to Tokyo.

  1. Capt. Evans F. Carlson, U. S. M. C, Navy Department language officer in China.