893.50 Recovery/7–1348

The Consul General at Tientsin (Smyth) to the Ambassador in China (Stuart)30

No. 71

Sir: I have the honor to state that since my return to Tientsin recently from leave of absence in the United States I have been impressed with the steadily increasing feeling on the part of northern Chinese that they have been deserted by their National Government. They feel, and the facts bear them out, that the National Government has neglected North China and has discriminated against it in favor of South China with regard to military supplies, relief allocations, allotment of foreign exchange for imports, and in many other ways, including the absence of northern Chinese in important positions in the National Government. This feeling is manifest in conversation with Chinese military and civil officials, business men and others, and is the subject of frequent items and comments in the local Chinese press.

Chinese here feel that National Government authorities in Nanking, Shanghai, Canton, and also in Washington are now engaged in a deliberate and intense effort to create the impression with American authorities that the situation in North China is beyond hope and that this area should therefore not be seriously considered in connection with the present American aid program. Chinese officials here maintain that the Government’s defeatist attitude in regard to North China is not warranted. They point out that in a number of ways the military situation in North China is better than in many other National Government areas, notably Honan, Shantung, Hupeh and north central China in general, where Government armies have sustained severe reverses. They remark that since the assumption of control in North China by General Fu Tso-yi six months ago, military operations against the Communists in this area have been conducted with far more competence than has been the case elsewhere in China. They state that troops and people have confidence in General Fu. They assert that General Fu has been carrying on under the handicaps of lack of cooperation from National commanders in adjoining areas, lack of troops, and a lack of arms due to the refusal of the Government to supply him with badly needed equipment. They say that, despite these handicaps, he has done far better than other Nationalist military leaders, and they maintain that, given a fair share of American military as well as economic aid, he and his troops could hold North China against the Communists.

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Chinese here fear, however, that the National Government will endeavor to keep in the South all military aid from the United States and will let North China fend for itself. In this case, it is stated, General Fu will not be able to hold off the Communists indefinitely and North China will be lost to the Government. If North China falls to the Communists, Chinese here believe that the rest of China will sooner or later go the same way. They have little regard for the reported Government plan to build up a base in the South from which a drive could later be made to retake North China, and say that if North China should be lost, due to Government failure or refusal to grant aid, the Government would later meet with serious resistance from an embittered population.

Chinese officials here believe that economic aid alone will not suffice and that economic aid must be accompanied by military assistance. Economic aid for the Kailan mines, for example, would not be completely effective without adequate military protection for the mines and railways. For this reason, they hope that arms and related equipment will be given them under the American aid program. In particular, they state that arms are needed to equip 100,000 militia which have been raised and partially trained by General Fu; these militia have no arms, and if arms were supplied under the aid program, the new arms would be given regular troops who would turn over older weapons to the militia.

Chinese here feel that, in view of the apparent policy of the National Government to keep American aid in the South, very little economic and no military aid will be allotted to North China without pressure from the American authorities. They hope that such pressure will be exerted in order that North China may receive a fair share of such aid.

The recent visit to Tientsin of Mr. Stillman’s ECA China Mission Survey Group31 (reported in despatch no. 72 of July 13, 1948)32 was welcomed by Chinese officials and others who hope to receive assistance, but the feeling persists that the Government authorities in Nanking, Shanghai and Washington, being in much closer touch with the higher American authorities, will be successful in keeping most of the American aid in the South.33

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In conclusion, it should be remarked that most Chinese in Tientsin do not want a Communist regime and would prefer to continue allegiance to the National Government. However, to hold this allegiance the Government must render effective assistance and cease the present discrimination against North China. If help is not forthcoming and present discrimination continues, North China leaders will have to decide whether to continue resistance against the Communists or make other arrangements.

Respectfully yours,

Robert L. Smyth
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul General without covering despatch; received July 27.
  2. The Reconstruction Survey Mission had been sent to China in June by the ECA to recommend allocation of funds to reconstruction projects under the China Aid Act of 1948, approved April 3, 1948; 62 Stat. 158. Its director was Charles L. Stillman, Consultant to the ECA on the China Aid Program.
  3. Not printed.
  4. In despatch No. 74, July 28, to the Ambassador in China, the Consul General at Tientsin reported that Roger D. Lapham, Chief, ECA China Mission, had visited Tientsin from July 25 to 27 and, at a press conference on July 26, had indicated that North China would not be overlooked in the aid program (893.50 Recovery/7–2848).