1 JANUARY 1954, Page 11

against the main French position at Setio, whose defenders, with

the advantages of air supply and a strong concentration of supporting arms, should be able to make the Viet Minh's victorious advance seem, in perspective, like a rather aimless foray. There is, however, the bare possibility that the Viet Minh strategy is diversionary. Nationalist Chinese sources have for some time been reporting major troop concentrations in Yunnan, Kwangsi, Kwangtung and Hainan Island. Some of the formations allegedly identified have come from Korea, and there are stories (which, if true, may be significant, for the Chinese attach importance to matters of military nomen- clature) that some units have been designated " Aid Indo- China Volunteer Troops "; the Chinese forces in Korea were known as the " Aid Korea Volunteer Army." There has always been some prospect of a major Chinese intervention in Indo-China, and if in fact Peking contemplated an attempt to seize the Red River Delta from bases only 200 miles north- west and north-east of Hanoi, it would be a sensible idea to tie up large French forces (and in particular a high proportion of the available transport aircraft) in a purely defensive role 300 miles to the south. There is no particular reason to suppose that anything of this nature is going to happen; but it may be noted thal the opening of a direct rail link between Moscow and Peking—if it is effected, as announced, in January--will indirectly but not negligibly lessen the great administrative difficulties of a third military adventure by the Chinese Communist armies.