740.0011 Pacific War/2683

Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State50

There are indications that there prevails among Army and Navy personnel, both in Washington and at Chungking, who are interested in Far Eastern questions, a greater degree of apprehension lest there occur in China in the immediate future a collapse which would take China out of the war as an active belligerent than prevails among the officers of this Department who are most intimately concerned with the Far Eastern situation and its problem.—What may be the official War Department and Navy Department opinion is another matter.

The existence of the opinion in Army and Navy circles that China may collapse, and collapse soon, gives rise to a feeling of defeatism with regard to China which must inevitably influence reasoning in those circles as to the advisability and practicability of sending military aid to the Chinese. It must contribute to the formulation of an opinion that to send such aid would be to take undue risks of losing materials sent—without the sending of them having accomplished any useful purpose. This must tend to influence procedure: it must tend to cause delays or to cause arrival at decisions not to send matériel.

But, the danger of a Chinese collapse flows in part from and is greatly increased by the fact that the Chinese are not receiving matériel. If collapse of China were to occur, that collapse would be due in no small measure to the fact that supplies from abroad (a) have not followed upon and made good the promises which have been given that supplies will be sent and (b) have not become available to the Chinese forces as matériel for the continuance of their resistance and the building up of an ultimately intended offensive. Notwithstanding their extraordinary patience, the Chinese are subject to the effects of disappointment, of a sense of frustration, of a feeling that they are not appreciated, of an ultimate conclusion that one cannot fight forever without weapons—just as are other people.

It is the belief of the Far Eastern officers of this Department and of the American Ambassador at Chungking that a Chinese collapse is not an imminent likelihood; that, however, continued Chinese resistance cannot be taken for granted; that the best way to insure against a Chinese collapse lies in the field of sending materials, especially planes, and establishing of an effective air transport into and out of China; that investment in this type of insurance is warranted [Page 91] even though it may be slightly speculative; that the Chinese resistance is an asset and cessation of Chinese resistance would be a great loss to the United Nations effort.

We therefore continue to recommend and to urge that every reasonable effort be made to maintain effective physical communication with China; that this effort take the form of an endeavor to establish on a substantial scale air transport between India and China; and that, unless and until it is demonstrated by trial that the thing cannot be done, policy be directed intensively toward establishing this transport and getting planes, materials, military equipment of most needed types, and some American air personnel and various types of military and civilian experts into China—with intention of increasing the amounts and numbers as availability thereof develops.

  1. Prepared at the request of the Secretary of State as a “memorandum” which he “might use in conversation with or might give to the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy”; transmitted on June 29 to the Secretary of State by the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck) for use in a meeting between Secretaries Hull, Stimson, and Knox on the morning of June 30.