3 DECEMBER 1948, Page 1

Debacle in China

Events in China seldom move as rapidly as the headlines suggest that they may, but it does seem that a decisive phase is being reached in the increasingly one-sided civil war. The Communists, employing their usual strategy,' have by-passed Suchow, from which the Nationalist forces are withdrawing as best they may. The threat to Nanking may not be, from a military point of view, immediate, but the capital appears, understandably, to be in the throes of a crise de confiance bordering on panic. Even if the machinery of Govern- ment is not about to be evacuated to Canton, which it almost cer- tainly is, it may be assumed to have seized up ; and instead of working inefficiently it will soon not be working at all. The truth of the matter is that the Kuomintang regime is down and out. The whole country is threatened by chaos. Of the various evils which impend, the only one which might conceivably be averted is further bloodshed on the battlefield. The Central Government have demonstrated conclusively their inability to defeat the Com- munists by force of arms, and to go on trying to do so can only increase the sum of human suffering without materially affecting the ultimate outcome. The Communist leaders are in a position to impose harsh terms on the Nanking Government or whatever emergency body may replace them ; but the outlook for the country as a whole would be less black if some avenue leading to a com- promise could be opened. This is not likely to happen while the Generalissimo still holds the reins of power, and the man who ,in the past has done so much for his country by refusing to budge would now serve it best by withdrawing from the scene. His wife's eleventh-hour mission to America ,is unlikely to achieve anything of moment. The only way in which America, or for the matter of that this country, can help China in her present crisis is by assisting— should the opportunity present itself—to bring to an end hostilities which, since their result is now a foregone conclusion, are as sense- less as their effects are cruel.