893.00/3–3147: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State 59

698. At Generalissimo’s request, General Gillem,60 formerly American Commissioner of Executive Headquarters, visited Nanking over [Page 812] week end to make his farewell calls prior to sailing on April 11. In course of conversation both before and after dinner, Generalissimo brought up subject of ammunitions shortages now confronting Government forces, describing situation as the problem of “most serious concern”. This morning Generalissimo sent General Yu Ta-wei61 to explain situation in detail to General Gillem.

Prior to departing for Peiping, General Gillem arranged that Colonel Underwood,62 who was present, should supply the following account of the conversation:

“Yu Ta-wei stated that, although there were serious shortages of all types of ammunition, small arms (including 7.92 mm) and mortar ammunition represented the primary requirements, the Communist guerrilla warfare tactics providing only occasional opportunities for use of artillery. He said frankly that American-equipped divisions were rapidly becoming ineffective because of lack of American ammunition and inferred mildly that the US had a moral responsibility to prevent the disarmament of these units.

Although the Chinese could not accept ammunition on the condition that it would not be used against Communist forces, still it did not desire American ammunition solely for that purpose. The Government’s responsibility for maintaining security required a constant state of readiness to suppress sponsored rebellions in any form. Moreover, agreement now to provide ammunition would have only an indirect effect upon current campaigns because of the long period required to redistribute ammunition to depot sites and battle areas within China, following its receipt at coastal ports. He charged obliquely that this truth was being overlooked by American policymakers who were withholding ammunition on the ground that such action was in immediate direct support of the Government against the Communists.

Yu Ta-wei referred to the request tabled (see 1171, June 194663 addressed to Colonel Carter) last summer for a strategic reserve of 6 months’ supply of ammunition for 39 divisions and hoped that way could now be found to honor that request. He offered to prepare for General Gillem a detailed statement of the present ammunition position, future Government requirements and distribution plans. He wished General Gillem to place this information before appropriate authorities in Washington, with a view to determining informally the American attitude in the matter. The urgency of the situation to the Chinese was clearly reflected by Yu Ta-wei’s anxiety upon learning that General Gillem might not reach Washington until June 1. Yu Ta-wei stated that neither his remarks nor the proposed ammunition report should be construed as a formal request from the Chinese Government. Because of past refusals, the Chinese Government did [Page 813] not wish to make a formal request unless favorable response appeared probable.

General Gillem stated that the supply of ammunition to China was related to over-all policy considerations transcending his responsibility and authority. However, recognizing that a clear statement of the Government’s current ammunition predicament would permit more accurate assessment of the extent and timing of possible future American aid, he agreed to accept Yu Ta-wei’s report and to forward it for use simply as reference material by authorities on a decision level.”

This report will be transmitted to you when received from Yu Ta-wei via General Gillem.64

Department please repeat Moscow as 6 for personal attention General Marshall.

  1. Repeated by the Department to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union for the Secretary of State, April 1, 3:35 p.m.
  2. Lt. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr., U. S. Army.
  3. Chinese Minister of Communications.
  4. Col. George V. Underwood, in charge of the Embassy Liaison Office which was set up as the successor to General Marshall’s office in China and functioned until the establishment of the Embassy Executive Office.
  5. Not found in Department files; for action on this request, see telegram No. 95249, July 23, 1946, Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. x, p. 753.
  6. Report not printed, but see memorandum by Brigadier General Timberman, April 22, p. 821.