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WAR IN CHINA: Recapture Canton?

3 minute read

Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek, whose whereabouts is usually a military secret, last week was revealed to have moved to a new headquarters in southern Hunan Province, midway between fallen Hankow and Canton. With British munitions and supplies cut off by Canton’s fall and the possibility that French Premier Daladier will heed Japan’s demand to close the supply route to China from French Indo-China, the onetime Red-fighting, Communist-hating Generalissimo has depended more & more on Soviet Russia for material. This has been going in by planes from stations on the outer Mongolian border and by truck caravans down an ancient 3,000-mile trail, now modernized with gas & supply depots, running from Russian Alma Ata to Sian.

There was evidence of this fundamental shift of the sources of Chiang’s supplies last week. Chiang’s crack troops, withdrawn from Hankow in plenty of time, were armed with 100 new tanks and newly arrived Russian artillery.

Certain that China’s main air base at Nanchang, 400 miles north of Canton, will soon fall, a new air station has been set up in interior Yunnan Province, and there last week Chinese recruits, coached by adventurous U. S. fliers, were busy learning the controls of recently arrived Russian fighting planes.

The Generalissimo has always tried to avoid costly positional battles with the overpowering, mechanized Japanese forces. At the same time his military advisers have scorned the opposite strategy, guerrilla warfare, as tactics fit only for the Eighth Route (former Communist) Army fighters. Neutral observers report, however, that the Japanese have been slain four to one in their skirmishes with the Communists. Last week, after retreating from the Japanese for 16 months, leaving them sprawling toward the interior on all China’s vital communication lines, Chiang publicly proclaimed a policy of large-scale guerrilla, hit-&-run attacks.

In Shansi Province last week, almost 300 miles north of Hankow, Communist guerrillas, fighting far behind Japanese front lines, continued to slash communication lines, ambush food and reinforcement convoys. From Hankow Japanese forces fanned out in a wide circle 200 miles in circumference, feeling for stray Chinese bands.

Last week Speaker Dr. Sun Fo of the Chinese assembly broadcast from Chung-king a nationwide appeal: “All the Chinese people must work for closer cooperation with Russia.” United Press reported neutral military attachés in China estimate that about 100 Soviet Red Army officers have now arrived to advise Generalissimo Chiang and his subordinate commanders. The original conquest of China by Chiang Kai-shek (TIME, Oct. 25, 1926) was accomplished with the technical assistance of Soviet General “Galen,” later known as Marshal Vassily Bluecher and recently purged by Stalin. Hong Kong dispatches this week reported Chiang & Advisers about to attempt a Chinese drive to recapture Canton, based on rallying and reorganizing the large Cantonese forces which gave up the city without a fight, withdrew intact.

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