The Consul General at Mukden (Ward) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 12—2:43 p. m.]
124. Two Communist columns moving northwards from Mukden-Hsinmin areas attacking Ssuping defended by two regiments Government Seventy-first Army. No effort reinforce Government garrison. Military observers concede fall Ssuping [and] Communist capture Kaiyuan (mytel 147 to Embassy, 107 to Department12) and move capture Ssuping seen as definite Communist attempt consolidate rear area positions. Main Government reason holding Changchun has been prevent Communists obtaining railroad net which could supply all Communist operations south Changchun to points within few miles Mukden and Hsinmin and extending east and west sufficient width supply Communist forces making flanking movement either these localities. Government now moving two divisions Kirin [Page 144] to Changchun, leaving only one very poor local division 7,000 men hold Kirin and nearby Hsiaofengman Dam. Communist capture Ssuping will complete isolation both Changchun and Kirin. Changchun has ammunition supply for 20 days sustained fighting only. If Communists so desire now appears they can take Changchun, Kirin and Hsiaofengman Dam and hydroelectric plant with little difficulty. Wei allegedly issued orders Hsiaofengman Dam to be destroyed if capture by Communists imminent. This information not confirmed thus far but if true one of main sources electric power for rehabilitation northeast will be destroyed.
Communists apparently realizing that military operation northeast has now passed stage were guerilla tactics supplied from countryside with food and with horse cart supplied ammunition adequate meet military demands. Consequently all present Communist moves appear aimed taking localities which will permit extensive rail network supply their operations. Already are repairing rail lines and line now open from Dairen to Tashihchiao and will be opened Tashihchiao-Haicheng within several days. Repairs will then be rushed open line northwards as far as Anshan. Communists have rail lines in operation Tsitsihar southward to Liaoyuan and from Meihoukou southwards to the north Korean border. Communists have not been destroying rail lines east and west of Ssuping and when Ssuping captured they will have rail line extending from Tsitshihar to north Korea border requiring only minor repairs to become operational. To supply their units Hsinmin area, Communists using railway from Liaoyuan to Tungliao and pushing repair line southwards from Tungliao to Changwu and Hsinlitun. Communist base supply depot for Mukden-Hsinmin areas will probably be Liaoyuan.
Competent military observers believe entire Communists rail network will be operational by July at latest.
Importance this rail network readily apparent. It affords Communists flexibility in attack on Mukden area and, if they succeed capturing Mukden and Hsinmin rail supply line, they will have good rail network support future operations against north China.
Best present hope Government thwart effective use this rail bridge over Tungliao River at Sanchiangkou, southeast Liaoyuan.
Soviet cognizance Communist plans and progress towards reconstruction rail network, evidenced by current statements being made Soviet Vice Consul Seregin from Peiping temporarily in Mukden. Seregin has told Mukden Russians that their status will soon improve, there will be great opportunities for Russian railroad workers and that for those who desire repatriation there will soon be easy short route by which repatriation may be effected.[Page 145]
Communists dismantling cotton mill Liaoyuang and transporting machinery overland to Haicheng whence it will be rail-shipped southwards toward Dairen. Vital machinery Anshan steel mill also being removed so that, should Government forces succeed recapture Anshan, steel mills will be useless.
With recent Communist successes local Russians, encouraged by Seregin, becoming optimistic their future. Any doubt existence Chinese Communist and Russian present cooperation and plans for continued cooperation and trade being rapidly dissipated by statements being made by Seregin in Mukden.
Future northeast now depending on results race between Government and Communists with common lines the goal. Many competent observers believe if Government does not succeed opening Chinchow-Mukden rail line within next several weeks or bringing sufficient supplies into northeast by air to permit a Government drive to seize reconstructed Communist rail lines, northeast will be lost in spite any future Government efforts retake because Communists will possess supply routes which they have not had heretofore in war against Government.
Sent Nanking 174, repeated Department 124.
- March 1, not printed.↩