793.94/14280: Telegram

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

35. Conversations before the capture of Wuhan with sources close to General Chiang Kai Shek have left the strong impression that the Generalissimo genuinely believes that he is fighting not only in defense of China but also on behalf of the democracies the vital interests of which, he feels, will be affected by the expansion and overweening ambitions of Japanese militarism. He is said to appreciate the unwillingness of the democratic powers to take military measures to check the expansion of Japanese militarism but is bitterly disappointed in these states because of their continued supply of war materials to Japan, which action he views as hostile not only to China’s resistance but also as directly contrary to the national interests of the democratic powers themselves.

Before the fall of Hankow and Canton competent foreign observers here viewed China’s resistance to Japan as primarily a defense of [Page 357] Chinese sovereignty. They now feel that China is unmistakably fighting not only her own battle but, perforce, also that of the democracies. It is believed that the stage may soon be reached where the Japanese military may be able to convert the organizations of China now conquered into an economic base for avowed further expansion. It is questioned whether Chinese resistance, which will continue but in a weakened form, will be sufficiently effective to prevent Japanese militarism from exploiting at least those resources necessary for the aggrandizement of its military power.

Economic restraints on Japan exerted by the United States and Great Britain, these sources believe, can still check Japanese militarism before it consolidates its position in China and launches further adventures more closely affecting the democratic powers. It is suggested that once Japanese militarism has begun to draw strength from China’s resources the democracies may no longer, if confronted with Japanese action jeopardizing their vital interests, be able to choose the comfortable alternative of effective persuasion through economic pressure.

Repeated to Chungking, Peiping, Shanghai.