156 Forde to Curtin (in London)

Cablegram 68 CANBERRA, 19 May 1944

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

At the last meeting of the Advisory War Council, reference was made to the forward thrust by Japan in China and to the serious consequences which would follow if the Japanese were able to reduce or neutralise China before Germany is defeated.

2. It is noted that the Dominions Office, in cablegram D.705 of 9th May [1], communicated information furnished by the British Ambassador at Chungking [2] as to the present situation in China.

The opinion is expressed by him that the Chinese could not be expected to resist a full scale Japanese attack and the following conclusion is stated:-

'General picture is thus somewhat gloomy and Chinese react nervously to any setback. On the other hand they have been much encouraged by developments in Pacific, increase of our strength in Indian Ocean and by war developments in general. Troubles of China are increasing but unless there is serious crop failure (present forecasts are good), accompanied by serious Japanese attack, Chinese Government should be able to carry on. Nevertheless strain is getting very heavy and Chinese are tired.'

3. The situation appears to have deteriorated further since this cablegram was received.

4. The discussions on China at the Prime Ministers' Conference, communicated in paragraph 10 of your cablegram 12 of 9th May [3], were noted by the Council. In view of the deterioration of the situation, it was recommended that the matter should be brought to your notice because of the wide implications of a Chinese collapse from the aspect of the prolongation of the war against Japan, the new and difficult problems with which the United Nations would then be confronted and their relation to the strategy and plans for the defeat of Japan. It was asked that information be furnished on the situation in China with special reference to the foregoing aspects.

5. I should be glad if a statement on the matter could be cabled for the Council.

FORDE

1 On file AA:A989, 43-44/150/4/3, i.

2 Sir Horace Seymour.

3 Document 141.

[AA:A5954, BOX 436]