893.00 Manchuria/8–2047: Telegram
The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 20—2:20 p.m.]
1760. Consensus of qualified observers, both Chinese and foreign, is that sixth Communist offensive is being mounted in Manchuria and will be launched shortly, possibly before end of August but probably not before early September. There are strong differences of opinion with regard to Communist targets in coming offensive but most likely possibilities appear to be:
(1) Capture of Ssupingkai and establishment east-west Communist corridor between Changchun–Kirin area and Mukden–Fushun area, (2) capture of Yingkow to deny its use to Government as supply port for Mukden area, (3) capture of Fushun which could make Government position at Mukden practically untenable, and (4) wholesale raiding against and destruction of Peiping railway north of Hulutao to eliminate only major Government supply line for troops in Manchuria.
Government-controlled areas in Manchuria have already been so constricted by previous five Communist offensives that they cannot adequately support Government forces or the civilian population. It is therefore likely that Communist offensive will ignore Changchun–Kirin area except for limited containing operations and concentrate force to further compress Government holdings in southern zone. [Page 258] Combination of possibilities 2, 3 and 4 in preceding paragraph most likely development.
It is generally conceded that on-coming Communist offensive will be more powerful than any preceding offensive, but it is not likely that Communists will be immediately successful in achieving objective of driving Government completely from Manchuria, granting, of course, that there is no serious collapse of major Government forces which does not seem likely at this juncture.
Ch’en Ch’eng and Sun Li-jen returned on August 17th from an inspection trip in Changchun area. It has been well known previously to Embassy that Sun Li-jen favored withdrawal southward from Changchun in order to effect greater concentration of force in southern zone. It is possible that Ch’en Ch’eng is in agreement with Sun in this regard, but it must be borne in mind that Communist strike in immediate future will reap some benefit from confusion which is bound to result from current efforts to reorganize Government command situation in northeast (see Embtel 1674, August 8 and Embtel 1740, August 1850).
Recent reports from northeast indicate that arrival of Ch’en Ch’eng has had excellent basic effect upon overall civil and military morale because of faith in his integrity as compared with Tu Li-ming and Hsiung Shih-hui but major reorganization remains to be achieved. Some new reinforcements have arrived in Mukden recently, but best information indicates that they are not in excess of 8,000 and only 6,000 of which are of combat quality. Replacement problem for units depleted in previous fighting has not been adequately solved even though there has been limited local recruitment. Furthermore, likely that on-coming Communist offensive Manchuria will be coordinated with Communist military activity North China to preclude the despatch of adequate replacements or reinforcements outside the Wall. A serious and a growing obstacle to adequate reinforcement northeast is reluctance on part of Government commanders such as Fu Tso-yi and Hu Tsung-nan to release troops from their commands in the face of uncertain political conditions North China.
Overall situation Manchuria militarily and economically is most gloomy, with early likelihood that Government position Mukden area will become as untenable as that at Changchun and Kirin. The outlook for winter months is even more gloomy inasmuch as coal supply situation is critical and in Manchurian climate neither civil nor military can exist without minimum heating facilities.
- Latter not printed.↩