CHINA: Straws

2 minute read

On June 16 representatives of China and the U. S. S. R. put their signatures to an economic pact which was scarcely announced. It received scant attention in the world press until three weeks ago, when Chungking officials announced that the economic pact provided for a $140,000,000 credit from Moscow, and fortnight ago, when 200 new Soviet planes, manned for the most part by Soviet pilots, appeared over China to make things hot for the Japanese.

Since it was quite clear last week that negotiations for the German-Russian Pact began at least six months before June 16, it was equally clear that the Far East figured in the Berlin-Moscow dicker. Here was evidence in silver and steel that Russia had traded Germany a free sphere in Eastern Europe for one in Eastern Asia.

Naturally the Chinese, who grasp eagerly for any straws in the international wind, were elated last week. As the British stiffened in Hong Kong, blowing up bridges joining the Crown Colony with Japanese-held territory, the Japanese simultaneously weakened in Shanghai, where 6,000 troops had been landed with the announced intention of “taking some action against the International Settlement.” The troops took no action. In Tientsin, the Japanese were washed out by the worst flood in the city’s history. The Chinese gave the Japanese a setback on their own in Shansi Province, where the Japanese have been carrying on an unenthusiastic campaign all summer.

They were elated, too, over the visit to their capital of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, onetime President of the Indian National Congress—the first important Indian to go to China since Rabindranath Tagore 15 years ago. Rumors of Japanese penetration in India have worried China; and the friendship of another downtrodden native race had feeling if not cash in it. Pandit Nehru received the biggest welcome ever accorded a foreign visitor. Over 200 officials and representatives of public organizations welcomed him at the pebbly island in the Yangtze which serves Chungking as an airport. Up through streets half-bombed, half-bedecked with banners & posters the Chinese drove their guest. As if purposely accentuating his sympathy for China, the Japanese sent over 18 bombers that night. For two hours Pandit Nehru sat snug in a dugout talking world affairs with China’s leaders.

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