The Ambassador in China ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 16—10:45 a.m.]
23. 1. According to the Chinese Communist chief of staff officer stationed in Chungking, the remaining units of the New Fourth Army numbering about 10,000 men were surrounded and attacked on January 6 by Central Government military units numbering 80,000 men as they were moving northward to cross the Yangtze River; the attack is alleged to have taken place in the vicinity of Maolintsun near Taiping in southern Anhwei. Information regarding the attack was reportedly received in Chungking on January 12 and brought to the attention of General Chiang Kai-shek,14 who is said to have immediately despatched telegrams to the government forces to cease attacking and permit the New Fourth Army units to continue moving northward. Notwithstanding these instructions the informant asserted that the local Communist headquarters had received a message despatched by the beleaguered Communist forces on January 14 to the effect that the main group was still encircled and fighting continuing. He asserted that the Communists regard the situation as extremely critical, [Page 463] that the Communist forces are preparing to defend themselves, and that if internal strife breaks out the Chinese Communists cannot be held responsible therefor.
2. The Embassy will endeavor to obtain and report by telegraph the National Government’s version of the incident, as well as pertinent future developments. A full report will follow by mail.15