Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Davies)21

Observers’ Mission to North China

Only one official American observer has ever visited the Chinese “Communist” area. That was six years ago. Since then we have been officially uninformed, dependent upon what we can learn from conflicting reports, second-hand.

This much, however, seems clear. In Communist China there is: (1) a base of military operations in and near Japan’s largest military concentration and second largest industrial base, (2) perhaps the most abundant supply of intelligence on the Japanese enemy available to us anywhere, (3) the most cohesive, disciplined and aggressively [Page 308] anti-Japanese regime in China, (4) the greatest single challenge in China to the Chiang Kai-shek government, (5) the area which Russia will enter if it attacks Japan, and (6) the foundation for a rapprochement between a new China and the Soviet Union.

The Chinese Communists have repeatedly indicated that they would welcome American observers. But future developments may cause their attitude to change.

We need to dispatch immediately, while it is still welcome, a military and political observers’ mission to Communist China to collect enemy information, assist in and prepare for certain limited operations from that area, obtain accurate estimates of the strength of Communist armies, report on Russian operations in North China and Manchuria should Russia attack Japan, and assess the possibility of North China and Manchuria developing into a separate Chinese state—perhaps even as a Russian satellite.

Chiang’s blockade of the Communists and their consequent isolation are forcing them toward dependence upon Russia. An American observers’ mission would break this isolation, reduce the tendency toward dependence upon Russia and, at the same time, serve to check Chiang’s desire to attempt liquidation of the Communists by civil war.

The Generalissimo will naturally be opposed to the dispatch of American observers to Communist China. His permission cannot be obtained through ordinary diplomatic and military channels. The request should come to him directly from the President, who can overcome any initial refusal by exercise of our ample bargaining power.

John Davies
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Second Secretary of Embassy in his communication, January 24; received February 2. Memorandum prepared originally for Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, Commanding General, U. S. Army Forces in China, Burma, and India.