The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State
[Received 11:45 p.m.]
1284. Reference Embassy’s telegrams 1277 and 1278, June 12. The announcement of an Outer Mongolian invasion of Sinkiang has been surrounded by a number of curious circumstances. The incident has provoked a flurry in Chinese Governmental circles which seems somewhat artificial and out of proportion. The information on which action was taken would appear to have been in possession of the Government for several days before any announcement was made. The announcement did not appear as an ordinary Central News Agency release but was drafted in the Foreign Office which then directed the Chinese Government Information Office to distribute it as a news item. Foreign correspondents were first informed orally at 8:30 a.m., June 11 at the Chinese Government Information Office that “Soviet planes had bombed Peitashan”. The official Government release 3 hours later, however, spoke of “planes bearing Soviet emblems”. A Foreign Office spokesman at the regular weekly press conference of the Chinese Government Information Office on the same day confined himself to the written statement contained in Embassy’s telegram 1277, June 12, and refused to answer any questions on the incident, most of which were directed toward eliciting more specific information with regard to Soviet complicity and evidence on which such charges could be based.
The Embassy understands that the Foreign Office policy meeting on June 10 which decided on a protest to the Soviets and publicity thereof was attended by Mr. J. John Beal [John R. Beal], on loan from Time–Life, Inc. to the Executive Yuan as adviser on foreign press relations. Another American employee of the Chinese Government Information Office told an Embassy officer that the attention given this incident is deliberate and designed to influence American public opinion in favor of financial aid to China.
It is also interesting to note that assistant American Naval and Military Attachés who attend their usual weekly briefing on military developments by Chinese G–2 on the morning of June 11 were surprised [Page 560] to find that there was no information for them on any area except Sinkiang and in this case they were given an elaborate account of the background of Sinkiang problems and informed that Chinese armies would be moved to Sinkiang to repel invasion.
Official statement on the incident appear[s] to be designed to create the impression that the occurrence is a new and startling event. On the basis of information available it is impossible to determine whether the current raid is of an elaborate nature, well planned, and with a definite objective. In the Chuguchak area of Sinkiang where international frontiers are ill-defined at best, forays by rival nomads or unpremeditated clashes between border patrols have been of frequent occurrence in the past.
The question of the extent of Soviet complicity is academic. The Outer Mongolian Republic is to all intents and purposes Soviet puppet, its armies Soviet-trained, equipped, and disciplined, and thus Outer Mongolia itself is an instrument of Soviet foreign policy whenever it suits the purpose of Moscow. On the basis of what is presently known, there would appear to be three possible explanations: (1) a minor border clash without significance, (2) a Soviet attempt to embarrass the Chinese Government, having in mind China’s current military difficulties in Manchuria and North China, and (3) Chinese exploitation of any incident involving the Soviet Union at this time to influence American public opinion. While Chinese Government reporting of the incident would tend to add weight to third possibility, it should be remembered that Soviet interest in Sinkiang and readiness to create and to exploit any opportunity to its own ends are beyond any reasonable doubt.
Sent Department as 1284; Department please repeat to Moscow as 20.