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209 Eggleston to Evatt (in Washington)

Cablegram 21 [1] CHUNGKING, 3 June 1943


My telegram addressed to Washington 18 [2] was drafted while I was in the country. My observations, since my return, have strengthened my belief that the situation here has deteriorated seriously. I now learn that the British Ambassador expressed similar views on the matter and that the General Officer Commanding the British Military Mission [3] has sent a supporting telegram to the War Office. Both agree that there is increasing evidence that the Chinese are getting desperate. Influential Chinese are now talking more or less openly about the possibility of China being unable to hold on for more than another year or 18 months.

2. The Chinese Director of Military Intelligence [4] considers that the present Japanese offensive in Hupei is not an attack on Chungking, although he admits that the Japanese could undoubtedly take Chungking if they wanted to. He believes that the Japanese prefer to see China disunited with Free China struggling under a major economic crisis than to have the whole country united under Wang Ching Wei. [5] This is not the view of the Chinese Minister for War [6] who is gravely concerned at the situation. Chiang Kai- shek [7] has himself made a rapid trip to the Hupei Front and Chen Cheng [8] was recalled from Yunan to take charge. The present Japanese concentrations on Hupei do not indicate sustained drive at present.

3. Whichever view is right, the general situation is bad, and the Chinese are no longer responding to Allied victories in other theatres in the way they once did. Hope throughout the past six months has centred on the belief that Burma would be recaptured.

Information from military sources suggests that no attempt is likely to be made in time to relieve the situation here. Press messages which are sent here from External Affairs Department, e.g. recent telegram by Rothman [9] to Sydney Morning Herald, and General Martin's commentary in the London Daily Telegraph, which we received today, suggest the defeatist attitude that the recapture of Burma is too difficult, that naval and air action from the east is also too hazardous and that Japan must be reduced by blockade. Nothing is more likely to complete the despair of the Chinese than release of these messages.

4. The position is complicated by the fact that both Americans and Chinese distrust the General Staff in India and believe that it is inert and unaggressive. This view seems to be shared by Australian[s] in India and by some British Officers I have met.

5. I strongly urge that at all cost reinforcements should be sent to United States General Headquarters here and that immediate preparations for a large scale attack on Burma are necessary to prevent China being lost as an Allied base. Such action would tend to relieve the pressure on Australia.


1 Repeated to the External Affairs Dept as no. S59 and to London as no. 4. The text here published is that of the copy received in Canberra.

2 Dispatched 19 May. On file Defence: Special Collection II, Military Situation-Chungking cables, file no. 3, 1/10/42-30/12/43.

It reported that inflation in China was almost out of control, morale was declining and the long delay in launching an Allied offensive against the Japanese had left the latter in a position where they could probably occupy the remainder of China.

3 Maj Gen J. G. Bruce.

4 Admiral Yang Hsuan-cheng.

5 President of the Japanese-sponsored Chinese Central Govt at Nanking.

6 General Ho Ying Chin.

7 Chinese Prime Minister.

8 General Chen Cheng commanded the Chinese Sixth War Zone.

9 Staff Correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald in Washington.

[AA:A989, 43/970/5/2/1]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History