893.00/9–445: Telegram

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

1514. Following is summary of Military Attachés report for week ending September 1:

Aggressive activity by Chinese Communists continued throughout China despite present visit to Chungking of Communist leader, Mao Tse-tung, to arrange reconciliation with National Government. Most of reports regarding this Communist activity are from Central Government sources and may be somewhat exaggerated. However, although details may not be true, reports contain indications of geographical strategy of Communists bearing out possibilities of future operations if no agreement between Communists and Central Government is reached. Most important developments to date have taken place in following four general areas in Eastern and Northern China:

It is natural that important Communist activities should occur in Shensi–Shansi region, Communist stronghold. During past 2 weeks, heavy fighting has taken place between Communists and Central Government troops east of the Yellow River. Second War Zone forces are in Taiyuan, Shansi capital, but Communists are harrassing their positions throughout Shansi. Most bitter fighting has occurred at Fenyang, 75 miles southwest of Taiyuan, where both sides sustained severe casualties. Whole province may become embroiled in serious civil war, if these hostilities continue without decision.

Reports regarding Chahar–Suiyuan–Hopei region have been difficult to confirm. Several important places on Peking–Faotow Railroad, including Kalgan and Kueisui, are said to be in hands of Communist Eighth Route Army. This seems to be an attempt by Communists to prevent Central Government forces from entering Peking from 12th War Zone in west. Communist strength in this area cannot be accurately determined, but, according to recent reports, strong forces from Eighth Route Army have been entering the area. Nearness of this area to Manchuria and its strategic situation separating rest of China from Manchuria, would warrant large-scale activity for control.

Throughout province of Shantung, Communist forces are strongly entrenched. [In Tsinan], Tsingtao and Weihsien regions, situation is developing rapidly. Communists are estimated to be able to muster [Page 550]50,000 troops in Tsingtao region and approximately 25,000 in each of other two regions. Central Government–Communist hostilities near Tsingtao have been in progress since Jap surrender, but so far neither side has been able to gain sufficient control to take over from Jap garrisons.

Communists’ New Fourth Army units which have been moving into Chekiang province from northern Kiangsu and Anhwei, and toward Yangtze River, are said to be concentrated in Nanking, Hangchow and Wuhu triangle. There are reported to be about 50,000 fairly equipped troops ready for attacks in future against Nanking and Wuhu. Ten thousand Communists are reported waiting further east in Ningpo region for Japs to evacuate in order to take over. Important Central Government forces of Third War Zone have been moving, however, into north Chekiang, and there are great possibilities of large-scale fighting for control of Hangchow region.

In south and central China, Communist activity has been principally by guerrillas who have been attempting to seize equipment and arms from both Central Government and Japs, and also have been operating against railways. (End of Summary.)

Embassy believes that Military Attachés report conveys an impression of civil war more serious than evidence warrants. Sources on which report was based may have been interested, for their own purposes, in spreading a picture of widespread civil strife and, as I have previously pointed out, events seem to be bringing about a solution of China’s internal political difficulties, and even now the Generalissimo and Mao Tse-tung are engaged in conversations, with considerable prospects of success, looking to an agreement between the Government and the Communists.

Hurley