Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. John P. Davies, Jr., of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs 32
Miss Anna Louise Strong, the well-known American author and formerly editor of the Moscow Daily News, called at the Department today where she was received by and held a conversation with Messrs. Atcheson,33 Jones34 and Davies. She subsequently met Mr. Hornbeck35 and Mr. Hamilton to whom she gave substantially the same information.36 Miss Strong described her impressions of the situation in China gained during a three week stay in Chungking during December and visits to Hong Kong and Shanghai. In Chungking she interviewed General Chiang Kai-shek and held long conversations with H. H. Kung,37 General Pai Chung-hsi,38 Sun Fo,39 Chou En-lai, the American, British and Soviet Ambassadors and other important personages. She had entered China from Russian Turkestan, flying as the first American to make the trip from Alma Ata to Hami, Tihwa, Lanchow and Chungking.
Miss Strong’s greatest concern during the course of her conversation today was apparently to give emphasis to the grave deterioration of relations between the Central Government and the Communists. It may be noted here that in her comments Miss Strong was, in view of her known leftist sympathies, notably moderate and objective.
Chu Chia-hua, the Secretary General of the Kuomintang, told her: “We have surrounded the Communists and we are going to wipe them out”. Pai Chung-hsi spoke of punitive campaigns against the Communists. Instigating this anti-Communist offensive, she declared, is Ho Ying-chin40 and a group of reactionary Kuomintang officials surrounding him. General Chiang Kai-shek maintains his role of being above factional strife and an impartial arbiter between his immediate subordinates and the Communists.
Miss Strong believes that the Central Government is genuinely alarmed by the growth of Communist strength. She referred to the numerical expansion of the Communist forces and the extension of [Page 478] their activities from Hopeh Province southward as far as southern Kiangsu and Anhwei, and remarked that concern over Communist control of the rich lower Yangtze Valley at the termination of the war with Japan was probably one of the main motivating factors of the current attempt by the Central Government to reduce Communist control in this area.
Not only does this crisis carry the danger of civil strife between Chungking and the Communists, with the implication of a breakdown in Chinese resistance to Japan, Miss Strong went on to say, but also might lead through a weakening of the Central Government to revolts on the part of other factional groups, such as the Fukien clique (which is said to be drifting toward Wang Ching-wei41), the Szechuan warlords and Lung Yun, Chairman of Yunnan Province.
Miss Strong was told by many Chinese in Chungking, men of moderate views who were not Communists and whose interests were primarily in the continuation of Chinese resistance to Japan, that they believed a simple intimation from the American Government or its representatives that the United States was interested in continued unity in China would serve to discourage the elements now stirring up factional strife. She was told by these Chinese that the American authorities have not displayed any concern over the trend of internal political developments in China and that therefore the group around General Ho felt that their actions, if not having the tacit support of the United States, were at least viewed with indifference. The British Ambassador42 told her that he had repeatedly informed the Chinese Government that he considered it most important for China’s sake and in the interests of the democratic cause throughout the world that China continue united.
With regard to aid to China from the Soviet Union, Miss Strong declared that her understanding was that it was continuing on the same basis as before. She said that the volume of supplies had not increased and when questioned more closely was unable to give any indication as to what aid the Soviet Union was extending. The principal channels through which supplies from Russia are entering China is across the Yunnan–Burma highway. Although she had flown into China from Alma Ata across Chinese Turkestan she apparently had or was willing to give little information regarding traffic across Sin-kiang into Kansu. She mentioned that most of the gasoline being brought in from the Soviet Union into northwest China came by camel caravan.
Aid to China from the Soviet Union, Miss Strong was told in Chungking by Chinese officials, was, prior to the recent loan of 100 million dollars by the United States, in excess of that given by all other foreign [Page 479] powers combined. Furthermore, it was given knowing that the Chinese would be unable to repay the Russian advances in full.
Miss Strong declared that the Soviet officials in Chungking were greatly concerned over the crisis in Central Government-Communist relations and indicated rather significantly that the Soviet Union is more interested in the preservation of Chinese unity than in protecting the rights of the Chinese Communist Party.
Japanese policy toward China, Miss Strong believes, has become more astute since the arrival in Tokyo of a large number of German advisers. She believes that the Germans are, through their connections in Tokyo and Chungking, playing a game designed to bring about civil conflict in China or a rapprochement between Chungking and Tokyo which would leave Japan free to push southward against British possessions in the Far East.
- Initialed by the Chief of the Division (Hamilton).↩
- George Atcheson, Jr., of the same Division.↩
- Joseph M. Jones, of the same Division.↩
- Stanley K. Hornbeck, Adviser on Political Relations.↩
- In a “Note” appended to the memorandum, it was stated that Miss Strong’s conversation with Messrs. Hornbeck and Hamilton “did not discuss personalities to the extent indicated in this memorandum, nor did she go into the same detail as she did in her conversation with Messrs. Atcheson, Jones, and Davies.”↩
- Chinese Minister of Finance and Vice President of the Executive Yuan (Vice Premier).↩
- Chinese deputy chief of staff and Minister of Military Training Board, National Military Council.↩
- President of the Chinese Legislative Yuan.↩
- Chinese Minister of War and chief of staff, National Military Council.↩
- Heading Japanese-sponsored “government” at Nanking.↩
- Sir Archibald J. K. Clark Kerr.↩