793.94/16466: Telegram

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


41. [Here follows a survey on “China in 1940.”]

9. The year 1941 was ushered in at Chungking on a wave of unprecedented optimism notwithstanding the uncertainties of the future and a realization of the many difficulties yet to be overcome. This optimism was predicated on the conviction that China had come to be inseparably linked with the so-called democratic powers in a worldwide struggle against aggression and that China would receive increasingly effective support from those powers. China was cheered also by Japan’s increasing difficulties—internal troubles, growing estrangement of relations with the United States and Great Britain and inability to woo Soviet Russia and failure to liquidate the “China incident” or even make progress in pacifying the occupied areas of China. The feeling was general that the future destiny of the Far East would be largely contingent on the outcome of the struggle in Europe.

With the consistent foreign policy of cooperation with the United States and Great Britain apparently approaching concrete realization, China may be expected to continue to resist Japanese aggression with all the forces at its command. Apparently lacking the requisite resources or power to counterattack and drive the entrenched Japanese Army from China at this time, Chinese intentions may be expected to continue along the lines of the past 2 years, that is, a policy of attrition. China would seem capable of prolonging the struggle pending the outcome of perhaps more momentous developments elsewhere which may exercise a decisive influence on the Sino-Japanese conflict. By and large China’s capacity to conduct prolonged hostilities appears to be affected by two principal internal considerations: (1) the financial and economic problem and (2) the question of internal unity. China [Page 474] is, of course, confronted with economic difficulties of a very serious character and these may worsen in the course of time but if China can be assured of timely external financial assistance and cooperation and if suitable domestic measures can be devised and enforced to stem the forces of inflation it would appear that the collapse and disintegration of China’s economic structure is neither necessarily imminent nor inevitable. While far from satisfactory, relations between the Central authorities and the Chinese Communists can scarcely be regarded as incapable of adjustment. A vital common aim and the knowledge that internal strife would perhaps prove fatal to the accomplishment of that aim suggest that the “united front” can and will be preserved in the face of Japanese aggression.

Sent to the Department. Repeated to Peiping. Peiping please mail code text to Tokyo.