893.00/6–2844: Telegram

The Officer in Chargé at New Delhi (Merrell) to the Secretary of State 49

471. Following for President from Wallace (Message No. 1).

Reference your message, delivered to me by Ambassador Gauss noon of June 23,50 with regard to United States Army observer group proceeding to North China (including Communist controlled areas) to obtain vital military intelligence. Prior to receipt of message, G–mo51 had indicated to me very positively his assent to the dispatch of group as soon as it could be organized. Accompanied by General Ferris,52 I again discussed the matter in detail with the G–mo on the afternoon of 20th [23d],53 and we obtained what I hope will prove to be his full cooperation for the early despatch and effective operation of the group.
Discussion between Government and Communist representatives is taking place in Chungking but the G–mo’s attitude toward the problem is so imbued with prejudice that I perceive little prospect of a satisfactory long-term settlement. G–mo assures me that only “political” measures will be employed.
G–mo indicated desire for improved relations with USSR and desires that we assist in bringing about meeting of Sino-Soviet representatives. I emphasized importance of reaching understanding.
I have found economic, political, and military situations in China extremely discouraging. Chinese morale is low and demoralization is a possibility with resultant disintegration of central authority. There is little that we can do about the economic situation. The Chinese appear incapable of coping with it but a general collapse does not seem imminent. The political situation is unstable and tense with rising lack of confidence in the G–mo and his reactionary entourage. Of the military situation I can only say that it might be worse. In Hunan it is critical. Although potentialities and plan exist for stiffening Chinese defenses out of Hengyang, there is serious threat of severance of East China from West with consequent effect on morale in remaining Free China.
The G–mo seems bewildered regarding economic situation; unsure regarding political situation; and, while expressing confidence in his army, is obviously distressed regarding military developments. He attributes recent and current reverses to low morale due to economic difficulties. He is convinced that all-out Burma offensive early this year would have strengthened Chinese will to resistance and prevented military reverses. He assures me that Chinese will continue to resist up to their ability but he displays discouragement rather than optimism.
I consider vital our need for a more vigorous and better coordinated American representation in China—in Chungking. Our effort in China, in its military and related political aspects, requires more positive direction, and closer cooperation from the Chinese, if this area is to be employed as an effective base of operations against the Japanese. (I am dispatching immediately a separate telegram54 on this subject).
  1. Copy submitted to President Roosevelt by the Secretary of State on June 28.
  2. Not found in Department files.
  3. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
  4. Brig. Gen. Benjamin G. Ferris, Acting Chief of Staff, U. S. Army Forces in China, Burma, and India.
  5. See Department of State, United States Relations With China (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1949), pp. 555–558.
  6. Telegram No. 472, June 28, noon, infra.