You have asked us for a brief history of and the current
prospects of the Ho regime in China. Disentangling the web of half-truths
that surround the course of the Last War has been a difficult one, and
we are still not entirely sure that we have been able to do so. However,
we have been able
to piece together the following account:
During 1942 the Chinese communist forces conducted no major field operations.
The Kuomintang conducted minor, probing attacks only, although these tied
down significant numbers of Japanese troops, who were under-resourced
and frequently were unable to bring to bear their significant advantage
in military hardware. As a result, territorial gains were made in the
south of the country.
During 1943, the Kuomintang became bolder, and General Ho was able to
capture Macao and advance into the northern part of French Indo-China
following the delivery of Soviet T-34s. However, they continued to be
unable to make best use of their industrial production due to a chronic
shortage of rubber. It is believed that this was why some T-34s were 'abandoned'
to Japanese forces during 1943, in exchange for rubber deliveries to keep
Kuomintang factories running. By the end of the year, however, even these
had run out, and for about six months nationalist industry was effectively
idle for lack of rubber.
As is now clearly established, the Chinese communist forces used this
period to consolidate in the north, and while the KMT was facing piecemeal
Japanese counterattacks in the south, a major communist offensive was
launched against the KMT in the north. However, the superiority of KMT
field forces was such that they were able to defeat the communists and
capture their major resource site. A major opportunity for the elimination
of the Chinese communists was missed at this stage, as the previous US
administration allowed itself to be bamboozled by communist propaganda
believing that the KMT had started the fighting, and, together with the
USSR, we pressured the KMT to return the resource sites to the communists
and cobble together a peace deal. The KMT leadership also missed a trick,
since it gave too much prominence to pressure from Stalin, who during
could not have exerted any military pressure on them. As a result, the
Chinese communists were given a vital respite, and consequently have been
allowed to expand to the present situation where they own half of China.
The only meaningful concession given to Chiang Kai Shek at this time was
his presence as the official Chinese delegation to the Yalta talks, although
he came away largely empty handed.
Nevertheless, during late 1943 and into 1944 the KMT continued to help
British forces in Burma, reopening the Burma road and pressuring Japanese
forces in theatre. It is also believed that it was during this period
that the KMT was able to supply nationalist guerrillas in French Indo-China,
which was the start of the uprising there. The communists soon followed
Undoubtedly, however, we must regard that failings of both KMT and our
own leadership meant that the KMT was not aided to the extent that it
could have been. The Japanese finally began to conduct significant offensive
operations in China and many of the territorial gains of early 1943 were
lost. The major turning point for the KMT, ironically, was US assistance
to the USSR in terms of synthetic rubber production. This gave the USSR
sufficient surplus that it could trade it with the KMT for tungsten, and
KMT factories were able to not only reopen but gear up production. Our
own military assistance finally began to make itself felt during 1944,
as significant numbers of US fighters and armour, and finally heavy bombers
arrived in theatre, and our assistance in helping the KMT set up their
own tank production line meant that they were able to conduct significant
combat operations against the Japanese during late 1944.
Unfortunately, Soviet assistance to the Chinese communists meant that
during 1944 the communist field force finally felt able to mount a significant
challenge to the Nationalists, and as well as expanding as far as the
Mongolian border, there was a major communist drive towards Chungking.
The resulting battle saw the communists driven back due in large part
to Nationalist air power, however.
The collapse of Japanese forces in Asia proceeded during 1945 as our naval
campaign finally starved them of resources, and the British were able
to make significant gains in southeast Asia, and a KMT drive recaptured
General Ho's popularity had been steadily building as he scored military
victories against the Japanese, and the absence of Chiang Kai Shek from
the battlefield during the war meant that Ho had not only played a large
part in Nationalist propaganda, but was also personally popular with army
commanders. It is perhaps therefore unsurprising that he took advantage
of the Shanghai victory parade to arrest and execute Chiang as a "traitor
to the people."
As we survey the scene in late 1945, the Ho regime nevertheless appears
to be fairly stable and settled, and the nationalist war machine is drastically
improved from its parlous state in 1942. It now has two lines of tank
production and significant logistics capability, and has demonstrated
its competence in large-scale campaigns against the Japanese.
The nationalist air force includes many squadrons of US-built aircraft,
including nearly 1,000 B-17 bombers, a capability which we believe the
communists still lack. Nationalist industry is rated better than communist,
although the communists now control far more raw materials supplies.
Furthermore, the communist forces are also much expanded and improved,
and now include significant armour and air resources from the USSR. While
the nationalists probably still have a slight edge militarily, this edge
is being rapidly eroded.
Overall, we believe that the battle for China is far from lost, and much
now depends upon the relative willingness of the US and USSR to continue
to supply their respective client states. We believe that perhaps
with assistance from Japanese forces in-theatre a successful campaign
for control of China is achievable. Stalin has however demonstrated his
commitment to the communist regime. We believe that the US must do likewise
for the KMT if we are to prevent China from becoming a communist satellite.