President Roosevelt Message to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek
|President Roosevelt Message to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek
|19 September 1944, delivered by General Stilwell|
After reading the last reports on the situation in China my Chiefs of Staff and I are convinced that you are faced in the near future with the disaster I have feared. The men of your "YOKE" Forces crossing the Salween have fought with great courage and rendered invaluable assistance to the campaign in North Burma. But we feel that unless they are reinforced and supported with your every capacity you cannot expect to reap any fruits from their sacrifices, which will be valueless unless they go on to assist in opening the Burma Road. Furthermore, any pause in your attack across the Salween or suggestion of withdrawal is exactly what the Jap has been striving to cause you to do by his operations in eastern China. He knows that if you continue to attack, cooperating with Mountbatten's coming offensive, the land line to China will be opened early in 1945 and the continued resistance of China and maintenance of your control will be assured. On the other hand, if you do not provide manpower for your divisions in north Burma and, if you fail to send reinforcements to the Salween forces and withdraw these armies, we will lose all chance of opening land communications with China and immediately jeopardize the air route over the Hump. For this you must yourself be prepared to accept the consequences and assume the personal responsibility.
I have urged time and again in recent months that you take drastic action to resist the disaster which has been moving closer to China and to you. Now, when you have not yet placed General Stilwell in command of all forces in China, we are faced with the loss of a critical area in east China with possible catastrophic consequences. The Japanese capture of Kweilin will place the Kunming air terminal under the menace of constant attack, reducing the Hump tonnage and possibly severing the air route.
Even though we are rolling the enemy back in defeat all over the world this will not help the situation in China for a considerable time. The advance of our forces across the Pacific is swift. But this advance will be too late for China unless you act now and vigorously. Only drastic and immediate action on your part alone can be in time to preserve the fruits of your long years of struggle and the efforts we have been able to make to support you. Otherwise political and military considerations alike are going to be swallowed in military disaster.
The Prime Minister and I have just decided at Quebec to press vigorously the operations to open the land line to China on the assumption that you would continue an unremitting attack from the Salween side. I am certain that the only thing you can now do in an attempt to prevent the Jap from achieving his objectives in China is to reinforce your Salween armies immediately and press their offensive, while at once placing General Stilwell in unrestricted command of all your forces. The action I am asking you to take will fortify us in our decision and in the continued efforts the United States proposes to take to maintain and increase our aid to you. This we are doing when we are fighting two other great campaigns in Europe and across the Pacific. I trust that your far-sighted vision, which has guided and inspired your people in this war, will realize the necessity for immediate action. In this message I have expressed my thoughts with complete frankness because it appears plainly evident to all of us here that all your and our efforts to save China are to be lost by further delays.