The Ambassador in China ( Gauss ) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 4—1:40 p.m.]
585. 1. Consul [at] Tihwa in despatches March 20 and 24 regarding alleged bombing attacks in Sinkiang by Soviet planes reports as follows:
Following further reported bombing and machinegunning on March 11, 12, 14 and 15 by planes bearing markings similar to those described in Embassy’s 479, March 17, Foreign Affairs Delegate Wu states he presented three additional protests to Soviet Consul General, all of which latter has orally rejected and called “provocative”. Wu also states Foreign Office, Chungking, lodged similar protests with Soviet Ambassador16 who said he must await instructions from Moscow before replying.
Wu asserts that nucleus of enemy force [consists of?] 400 former Sinkiang Kazak bandits driven by Provincial forces across border into Outer Mongolia early January; that Kazaks, who had since sent small raiding parties into Sinkiang, were reinforced by 600 Mongol soldiers and Mongols and Kazaks from Outer Mongolia and accompanied by two Soviet advisors when they attacked Provincial Government forces [with] 2,000 men March 11; and that Provincial casualties were 100 and enemy 200. Delegate first told Smith [that] Provincial troops withdrew 145 kilometers March 16 to point on Kitai–Chenghwasze road 220 kilometers from Mongolian border but on March 24 stated withdrawal was to Erhtai only 30 kilometers from bombed original position. Wu says that enemy made three reconnaissance flights March 18 and 19 over new position at Erhtai which allegedly has not been bombed or attacked since Provincial withdrawal to that point; that Chinese plane flew March 22 to Kobdo without sighting enemy force although enemy cavalry were said by Wu [Page 766] to have taken up position 15 kilometers from Erhtai March 18. Delegate states he has restrained Tupan Sheng from sending planes and reinforcements against enemy and that Sheng is sending staff officer to Chungking to report to Generalissimo.
In reply to Smith’s question, Wu admits Outer Mongolian Government some 2 years ago attempted establish new Sinkiang–Mongol border, validity of which never recognized by Chungking. On secret staff map prepared by Sheng and shown to Smith by Wu, bombed position at river junction south of Chingho lies barely 10 kilometers on Sinkiang side from roughly-drawn Mongol delineated border; new position at Erhtai shown as about 30 kilometers further west. New borderline on map so roughly drawn as to suggest possibility inaccuracy of as much as 10 kilometers.
In view of foregoing, Smith believes attack probably motivated by real or fancied encroachment by Sinkiang troops on Mongol territory and suggests incident may have arisen from Chinese feeler to test Mongol reaction although Wu denies Provincial forces have crossed Mongol established border during past several months and maintains Chungking desires postpone until end of war any effort to regain control Outer Mongolia. Wu explains incident as Soviet desire to test strength [of] Chungking-Sinkiang military cooperation with view to possible further action aimed at opening corridor between Yenan Communists and Soviet Russia via Sinkiang, Ninghsia and Shensi.
Smith expresses the opinion that despite sharp reaction [of] Soviet-controlled Outer Mongolian regime it will be surprising if Chinese do not make second move in near future as it seems unlikely that territory included in province until 2 years ago will be allowed to remain under Soviet-controlled regime without Chinese effort to assert control.
2. Generalissimo March 22 reportedly summoned General Chu Shao-liang (Commander Eighth War Zone), Hu Tsung-nan (Deputy Commander) and Ma Pu-ching (Commander, West Chinghai) to Chungking. First two said to have returned to northwest and arrival of Chu at Tihwa March 23 reported by Central News. Chu and Hu are said to be Charged with task of sending Chungking reinforcements to Sinkiang as soon as possible. Ma remaining in Chungking, but it is not known whether because of Chinese desire to enlist his support or to prevent his joining enemy. His relations with Kazaks in past however said to have been poor.
In reply to question at Government press conference March 30 regarding alleged bombing in Sinkiang, rumored Soviet-Jap-Communist understanding against Central Government and presence Ma Chung-yin in Sinkiang, spokesman refused to comment. It is reported [Page 767] all news despatches on Sinkiang situation must be submitted to Generalissimo for approval.
- Alexander Semenovich Panyushkin.↩