740.0011 European War 1939/14459: Telegram

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

367. Yesterday during the course of an informal conversation with Foreign Minister Quo reference was made to the recent Churchill statement. Quo reiterated his remark to the press that Churchill’s reference to conversations between America and Japan concerning a Far Eastern settlement caused him no apprehension. He admitted that it had been the cause of some surprise and concern but said that no apprehension was felt among the higher officials. He commented that China can no longer be used as the object of negotiations by other nations, that China is now arbiter of her own destiny; that he believed that a settlement in the Far East would have to be part of a general world settlement; and that most probably the principles of the Nine Power Treaty and the eight points must be the basis for the Far Eastern settlement. He described all efforts to reach an understanding with the Japanese at this time as “bargaining with a tiger for his skin.” He added that elements in China that might wish to come to terms with the Japanese have no leg to stand on.

Notwithstanding the Foreign Minister’s apparently confident attitude, I have reason to believe that Churchill’s reference to American-Japanese conversations, the omission of a gesture toward China during the course of the Roosevelt-Churchill meeting, and last paragraph suggesting that freezing and the export license system may not be stringently applied toward Japan, are causing some uneasiness and resentment among the Chinese even in higher circles. The Chinese want, as much as they want material assistance, to be recognized as equal partners in the fight against aggression. This may be a matter of “face” but it is nevertheless important especially from the stand [Page 396] point of the relations of the controlling elements in the Government who desire to continue resistance with those elements who are not at all convinced that a settlement with Japan might not be advisable. Reports of conversations between America and Japan and implications that China is not accepted as an equal in the [anti-aggression?] front weaken the position of the [controlling?] group vis-à-vis the others.

Evidence of this situation is reflected in the Generalissimo’s comments communicated by my telegram No. 339 for your information August 11, 7 p.m.;47 in a recent editorial in the Takung Pao which expressed the same idea dwelling on the fact that there seemed to be concern over the extension of Japanese hostilities to the south and to the north but none over the continuation of Sino-Japanese hostilities; and in an apparent feeling in connection with the Moscow conference that China is again being slighted.

Arnstein,48 the American motor transportation expert who has been inspecting the Burma Road, recently reported to Harry Hopkins as representing Chinese opinion here in a conversation he had with Madame Chiang who at a dinner in his honor indulged in an impulsive criticism of the American-British attitude toward China. She said that China after 4 years fighting against aggression was ignored at the Roosevelt–Churchill meeting, expressed the opinion that the democracies were following the policy of appeasement toward Japan and indicated that this has provoked Chinese resentment. The Generalissimo chided his wife for her impulsive outburst before their guests, he did not express disagreement with her views, and subsequently at a luncheon party Madame Kung49 expressed similar views to Arnstein.

There are evidences of a growing feeling among the Chinese that the American-British policy of aid to China is designed for the purpose of maintaining Chinese resistance to Japan in order that America and Great Britain may not have to engage in hostilities in the Far East. This runs counter to the Chinese hope that America and Great Britain will be drawn into war with Japan, thus assuring victory in China’s conflict with that power. The Chinese sense a danger that China may be subordinated to Anglo-American war objectives and this accounts in large measure for their desire for recognition as having full partnership in the fight against aggression and for their sensitiveness to suggestions of Anglo-American overtures toward Japan. In my conversations with Chinese officials I have endeavored and shall continue to try to disabuse their minds of these suspicions.

  1. Vol. v, p. 700.
  2. Daniel G. Arnstein, who made a report to the Chinese Government in August.
  3. Wife of the Chinese Minister of Finance and elder sister of Mme. Chiang.