Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Butterworth)

Participants: M. Jean Daridan, Counselor, French Embassy
W. Walton Butterworth, Director for Far Eastern Affairs
Richard D. Weigle, Executive Officer, FE

M. Daridan called at his request to discuss a number of matters prior to his departure tomorrow for a month’s leave in Paris. In the course of the conversation he asked whether any important developments might be expected from the current visit of Madame Chiang Kai-shek. In reply I told him that no change in our current policy was anticipated.

The conversation then turned to the disastrous military situation facing the National Government in China. M. Daridan spoke with visible appreciation of the excellent cooperation existing between Ambassador Stuart and Jacques Meyrier, French Ambassador to the Chinese Government at Nanking. He then went on to express the strong feeling of his Government that it would be utter folly for the various Embassies to attempt to follow the Chiang Government in its probable flight to Canton or elsewhere. Should such a trek be undertaken the diplomats might well find themselves without a government with which to deal.

I indicated that the report we had received of the last meeting that the French Ambassador as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps had called stated that the British Ambassador and the Commonwealth countries’ representatives in Nanking and certain others as well intended to leave their Chiefs of Mission in Nanking and send the Minister-Counselors with the government if it moves.

For M. Daridan’s confidential information I relayed the following advices from this Government’s military representatives in China:

From the fall of Tsinan through the Manchurian debacle the National Government had lost thirty-three divisions with equipment, about one-third of it American;
No battles in the current fighting have been lost for lack of equipment, matériel or ammunition, but rather for reasons of poor leadership and low morale; and
The elimination of the Nationalist Armies principally fighting north and northwest of Nanking would leave the balance of China south of the Yangtze River without appreciable trained defense forces.

M. Daridan expressed his thanks for and general agreement with these advices. He deprecated the stubbornness of the Generalissimo while, at the same time, admitting his past greatness. He spoke of the hopelessness of attempting intervention of any sort, even limited international police action at Shanghai, inasmuch as the enmity and opprobrium of the masses of the Chinese people would inevitably be incurred.

I alluded to a CBS radio report that the Communists had asked Shanghai officials, police and businessmen to remain and carry on as usual, stating that this was either propaganda to soften the city for take-over or that the Communists really desired to have as orderly and rapid a transfer of authority as possible and not to by-pass it should Nanking fall. M. Daridan agreed that the Communists face a tremendous task in organizing and administering the vast territories which are falling under their control and that it will be exceedingly interesting to observe their approach to the problem.