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

No. 501

Sir: I have the honor to enclose copy of a despatch, dated July 5,62 from Mr. John Davies, Jr., Second Secretary of Embassy attached to the staff of Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, U. S. A., Commanding General of the American Army Forces in China, Burma and India. Mr. Davies’ despatch submits copy of a memorandum to General Stilwell dated July 5,63 summarizing and commenting on attached copies of memoranda of conversations with

  • Madame Sun Yat Sen (widow of Dr. Sun Yat Sen)62
  • General Chou En-lai (official representative at Chungking of the Chinese Communist Party)64
  • Mr. Chang Han-fu (Communist newspaper editor at Chungking)62
  • Mr. Sun Fo (President of the Legislative Yuan; son of the late Dr. Sun Yat Sen)62
  • Mr. T. C. Lin (a former professor of Yunnan University, and incidentally, the paid “Chinese consultant” of Dr. E. M. Gale, representative in Chungking of Colonel William Donovan, coordinator of Information at Washington. I have also heard Mr. Lin described as an advisor to General Ho Ying-chin) .62

[Page 99]

The views of these several Chinese being summarized in Mr. Davies’ memorandum, there is no occasion for me to review them here. The Embassy concurs in general with the comments made by Mr. Davies in his memorandum.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
[Enclosure 1]

Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Davies) to the Commanding General, American Army Forces in China, Burma, and India (Stilwell)

Summary of and Comments on Recent Conversations

The attached memoranda of conversations in Chungking are summarized and commented upon in the following paragraphs.

Both Communist and Kuomintang officials interviewed anticipated a Japanese attack on Siberia in the near future. This expectation appeared to be based upon a belief that (1) Japan must round out its defensive position, therefore the threat of Siberia must be eliminated; (2) as the defeat of Germany would have disastrous effects upon Japan, a Japanese attack on Siberia to ensure a prompt German victory over the Soviet Union is indicated; and (3) time is operating against the Japanese, consequently they must act promptly.

None of the Chinese interviewed suggested that the outbreak of Russo-Japanese hostilities would be seized by the Chinese as an opportunity for taking offensive action against the Japanese. The Communists anticipated, in the event of a Russo-Japanese war, a determined Central Government effort to crush the Communist forces in Ningsia, Shensi and Shansi.

The Chinese interviewed all displayed what was to me, after talking to some of our officers, a strange confidence that the Japanese would not and could not knock out China. Chou En-lai said, and I think accurately, that even though the Generalissimo were forced to fall back into northwest China he would never capitulate to the Japanese.

Relations between the Central Government and the Communists would appear to have deteriorated. Chou En-lai and Madame Sun were definite in their statements that relations between the two sides had worsened with the tightening of the Central Government’s blockade of the Communist area. General Chou declared that 441,000 Central Government troops were enforcing the blockade. Dr. Sun Fo and Mr. T. C. Lin sought to minimize the significance of the blockade and suggested that the Communist forces could not be considered effective and modern fighters.

[Page 100]

This general picture of mutual distrust and antipathy between the two principal Chinese factions together with the apparent reluctance, with which you are familiar, of the Government to expend its strength against the Japanese lends color to Chou En-lai’s suggestion that the Central Government military authorities are conserving their strength out of domestic political consideration and leaving offensive action against the Japanese primarily to the United States and the British Empire. In this connection Madame Sun observed that the Central Government military leaders were interested in problems closer to home than the retaking of Burma.

General Chou and Mr. Chang Han-fu, the Communist editor, reacted significantly to the subject of Chinese Government hints which have been made from time to time of impending capitulation and the resultant extension of American military and financial aid. The former remarked that the Chinese intimations were made for the effect which they produced. The latter asked why we did not call the bluffs.

It is not unlikely that their attitude reflects a belief that American material aid to the Chinese Government will someday be turned against the Communists.

Mr. Tsiang Ting-fu, Political Vice-Minister of the Executive Yuan, said on June 27 that the Generalissimo’s attitude was that India should immediately be granted independence and that General Chiang had not hesitated to let the British know his position in the matter. Dr. Sun seemed to hold some rather vague and not well-founded ideas on the Indian problem. In contrast, the Communists and Madame Sun appeared to be aware of the complexity of the problem. This was probably due in a large measure to their realization that the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League are reactionary on virtually every issue save that of independence.

Mr. T. C. Lin’s forecast on the European war envisaged an Anglo-American race against the Russians to Berlin. He also warned against the development of a situation at the termination of the war in which the Soviet Union would again feel itself isolated and compelled to build up armaments sufficient to repel any possible combination of enemies. In such a situation he foresaw the possibility of an Anglo-Japanese understanding.

From my conversation with Mr. Tsiang and Mr. Lin I derived the impression that these two gentlemen and the influential group in the Central Government which they, in a minor capacity, represent are acutely aware of the manoeuvering by each of the United Nations (excepting perhaps the United States) to husband its military strength so that it may arrive at the peace table with its maximum bargaining power. My guess is that the Chinese Government is withholding [Page 101] offensive action against the Japanese and conserving its strength out of international as much as domestic political considerations.

John Davies
[Enclosure 2]

Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Davies) to the Commanding General, American Army Forces in China, Burma, and India (Stilwell)

Conversation With Chou En-lai

General Chou En-lai, Communist representative at Chungking, was recovering from an operation when I saw him at the Central Hospital on June 29.

Since the beginning of the Pacific War, General Chou stated, he has not been called in for consultation with the Central Government authorities. During the past three weeks, as the expectation of a Japanese attack on Siberia increased, the Central Government’s blockade of the Communist area in the northwest has tightened. General Hu Tsung-nan commands an army of 441,000 maintaining this blockade. Twice I tried to lead him out on what the Communist reaction would be to the withdrawal of substantial numbers of Central Government troops from the blockade. His replies were not clear beyond that he believed such action unlikely, but that if it were taken the Communists would probably return eastward.

General Chou did not anticipate a Japanese attack on Kunming. He pointed out that the Japanese knew that the decisive subjugation of China would be a never-ending task and, in effect, that more important objectives still lay before them. Current Japanese operations he regarded as an interim campaign preceding a major effort against either Siberia or India. An attack on Siberia he considered to be more likely.

Although General Chou did not expect Kunming to be attacked and occupied by the Japanese, he said that if the capital of Yunnan were taken, he would expect the Generalissimo to withdraw to Lanchow. He declared that others may be able to seek peace with the Japanese, but never the Generalissimo. He remarked with a significant smile that rumors of the Chinese being prepared to accept Japanese peace offers were staged for effect.

In commenting on General Ho Ying-chin, the Communist representative said that General Ho’s objective was to conserve the military strength of the Central Government, leaving the defeat of Japan to the United States and Great Britain. If Germany, however, emerged victorious over the United States and Great Britain he was also prepared [Page 102] to come to terms with the Germans. In any event the Minister of War was opposed to the expenditure of the Central Government’s military power; it would be needed after the termination of the war with Japan. Therefore to any program for military action General Ho could be expected to present objections and discover obstacles in the way.

According to General Chou, not more than 600,000 troops at the most would acknowledge the personal leadership of General Ho, as against some 2,500,000 which the Generalissimo can personally depend upon. The Communist leader said, “General Ho can command some Szechuan troops, he can command the Yunnan troops—perhaps—and he can command a part of Ku Chu-tung’s armies; that’s all.” The War Minister’s power lies, General Chou explained, obviously not in the relatively weak forces which might respond to his command, but in his administrative hold developed over a period of more than a decade.

The Indian problem interested General Chou. He asked many questions. Apparently he had no sympathy for the Congress and was visibly amused by the incongruity of the tacit alliance in India between British colonial imperialists and the Communists.

Unified command is the most important factor, General Chou stated with emphasis, in any attempt to retake Burma. He said half laughingly half seriously that if the Generalissimo would permit him, he would take Communist troops under his command for a Burma campaign and “I would obey General Stilwell’s orders!”

John Davies
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  2. Enclosure 1.
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