Hopkins Papers

The Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Soong ) to the Presidents Special Assistant ( Hopkins )


Dear Mr. Hopkins: I am sending you a memorandum which will you please present at your discretion to the President and the Prime Minister, as I think it is important for me to participate with them in discussions affecting China.1

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Tse Vun Soong

Memorandum by the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Soong)



At the conference between the President and the Prime Minister now going on when strategic decisions will be made, China asks to be consulted, at least on the sectors affecting her own war operations.
On July 7th, China will have completed five years of her war with Japan. Her people have been exhausted by this long struggle; such arms and materials as were bought from Germany and the U.S.S.R. are being exhausted; due to the fall of Burma, materials for her arsenals are wanting; and the Japanese are delivering heavy attacks not only to secure airfields but to drive the Chinese forces west of the Peiping–Hankow–Canton Line. With air support the Japanese have been having great initial successes, and if they realize their plans, it may well be the “last straw” to Chinese resistance, because the economic and military position of Free China, dependent to a great degree on the coastal and central provinces and already so much weakened by uncontrolled inflation, will be made untenable.
China could not hope for the immediate opening of a new front to relieve her, and she is not even asking for such supplies as will enable her to launch major counter-attacks. She asks only for such supplies and support as will enable her to hold on, while major decisions are being made elsewhere.
To enable her to do so, would mean:
Decision and plans to recapture Burma in the near future.
Air Support for the Chinese Armies.
Air Transport into the Interior.
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It is obvious that large-scale supplies to China could only be resumed with the reopening of the land route to China. Active preparations should therefore be begun in China and India during the monsoon season for the recapture of Burma by land and sea operations at the end of the year. I am given to understand that naval control of the Bay of Bengal will shortly be restored, so emphasis should be given to military preparations, especially in India.
The President has already ordered the Brereton Tenth Pursuit Group to China, and the Prime Minister has agreed to send a light bombing squadron to China. The Generalissimo has asked that, in order to enable the Chinese armies to hold the Japanese at bay, there be maintained constantly an effective airforce of about 500 planes. Between 200 and 300 planes would be in China with the Brereton Group, the AVG and the British light bomber squadron, and the force should be immediately built up and kept at the total urged.
In the interim before the reconquest of Burma, so as to supply the Chinese armies with a minimum of war supplies by air transport, an emergency monthly program of 3,500 tons of munitions was drawn up by Chinese representatives with the Joint Munitions Assignments Board. This is a pitifully small figure, and represents the absolute minimum which would be of any use. However, the air transport program between India and China needs to be taken seriously to build up to the figure of 5000 tons monthly capacity sufficient both for munitions and supplies for the airforce. Of the 100 twin-engine transports ordered by the President in February to be sent, little more than half were sent. Even of these, some were diverted to the shuttle service in Africa, and some were used for flying within India, so that only a few were actually put into service between India and China. Due to lack of planes, reserves of pilots, ground crews, spare parts, and the monsoon season, the U.S. Ferry Command now plan to carry from India to China 128 tons in June, 264 tons in July and 400 tons in August, September and October! The remedy, it seems, lies in:
The full complement of 100 twin-engine planes, as assigned by the President, with all necessary ground organization, crews, and spare parts.
Additional four-engine planes of the C–54 type to overcome even unfavorable weather conditions enroute to China.
There is great need for airplanes everywhere, but compared to the requirements of the other theatres of war, the demands of China are so modest that they could be realized if the will is there.
I consider it my duty to the President and the Prime Minister to state without any desire to exaggerate that the situation in China is most grave, and to ask that an opportunity should be taken during the Prime Minister’s visit to make decisions relating to China of so concrete a nature as not only to enable the Chinese High Command [Page 465] to make due preparations, but also to afford actual relief, as well as maintaining the morale of the Chinese people and armies.
  1. Soong, who was in the United States on a special mission in connection with securing wartime assistance for the Chinese Government, met with Roosevelt, Churchill, and Hopkins on the morning of June 22, 1942; see the editorial note, ante, p. 438. Soong also attended the meeting of the Pacific War Council on June 25, for the record of which see ante, p. 448.