762.9411/67: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Steinhardt ) to the Secretary of State

1254. The Chinese Ambassador63 told me today:

That in his opinion from the Japanese point of view the German-Italian-Japanese alliance had been concluded largely for its effect on Japanese public opinion to counteract discouragement arising from the serious economic and commercial conditions and to offset the Soviet-German agreement of last year.
That before he had left Chungking the German Government had approached the Chinese Government with a view to constituting what the Germans called a “Pacific bloc” to consist of Japan, the [Page 656] Soviet Union, China and Germany, pointing out to the Chinese Government that such a bloc could be used as a medium for terminating the Chinese-Japanese war and that it held the promise of economic advantages after the termination of the European war. The Ambassador said that the Chungking Government had been very cool to the German suggestion and that in the course of one of his talks with Soviet officials after his arrival in Moscow he had learned that the German Government had made similar proposals to the Soviet Government.
The Ambassador did not express concern at the possibility of a Soviet-Japanese provisional agreement, saying that from his various talks in the recent past with Soviet officials he had gained the impression that there was little likelihood that a common meeting ground could be found for any basic understanding between the Soviet Union and Japan.
Insofar as continued resistance by Chiang Kai-shek is concerned, he said he had no reason to believe that his resistance would not continue as long as Chiang Kai-shek found it possible but that the closing of the various roads over which supplies had been reaching the Chinese had reached a point where the assistance of the Government was seriously embarrassed. In this connection he expressed the hope that the United States would exert pressure on Great Britain to reopen the Burma road, pointing out that the Burma Road was well built and permitted fairly free transportation whereas the route from the Soviet Union via Sinkiang was not only long but risky, for at times almost impassable and open only to such supplies as the Soviet Union permitted.
The Ambassador said that a complete and detailed understanding had been reached between the Chungking Government, the French Government at Vichy and the French officials in Indochina for joint cooperation in the event of a Japanese attack and that this agreement had included the sending of a mission from French Indochina to Chungking by plane. He said that 10 days ago when the Chungking Government had sent a plane to Indochina to call for the mission it had been informed that the mission was canceled and that from then on the Indochinese Government had failed to cooperate with the Chinese. He said that the Government at Chungking was convinced that the complete about-face of the French Indochinese Government had been the result of German pressure. As a further example of the sudden failure of cooperation, he said that by agreement with the French Indochina officials the main bridges had been blown up and the railroad cut, it having then been contemplated that the cutting of the railroad would deprive the Japanese of their pretext for invading French Indochina. Although these acts had been undertaken with the full knowledge and consent of the French officials within the past [Page 657] 10 days, the French officials had complained bitterly of the destruction of the bridges and had accused the Chungking Government of having taken this action without prior agreement with the French officials.

  1. Shao Li-tzu.