10 DECEMBER 1937, Page 1


ON Tuesday, with Nanking in flames and the Japanese at the gates of the city, Marshal Chiang Kai-shek abandoned his capital and left by air for a destination believed to be Nanchang, 300 miles south-west of Nanking, and at one time the headquarters of his operations against the Communists. The Japanese advance, from the South and the East, has been extremely rapid in the last fortnight, thanks to an almost total absence of resistance. Indeed, from the reports of the irregular withdrawal of Chinese troops from Nanking, it seems probable that there has been a break- down in morale and this no doubt influenced the Commander- in-Chief's decision to abandon the city. Aeroplanes, stores and munitions, have been removed ; what cannot be removed has been destroyed ; and the suburbs have been set on fire. Yet despite the withdrawal of thousands of troops, a large number are left to conduct a defence which, since their retreat will be cut off, will be desperate and hopeless. It is a tragic fate to befall the capital of the Chinese Republic and the efforts and hopes centred on the Government of Chiang Kai-shek ; and the tragedy finds a fitting symbol in the Japanese flag which flies today over the tomb of Sun Yat-sen. The entry of the Japanese is likely to be followed by a lull in operations and the centre of military activity to shift to Shantung province, in North-East China, where the Chinese have constructed a strong line of defences to obstruct a Japanese advance across the Yellow River.