Important Role of former Nazis in Eastern Germany." 

November 21, 1950
Central Files Decimal Number 762B.00

Political, Economic, and Military Conditions in China: Reports and Correspondence of the U.S. Military Intelligence Division, 1918-1941

Date Range: 1918-1941
Content: 17,601 pages
Source Library: U.S. National Archives


Political, Economic, and Military Conditions in China: Reports and Correspondence of the U.S. Military Intelligence Division, 1918-1941 represents the first-ever digital publication of the intelligence reports of the U.S. military attachés and their staffs in China during the period 1918-1941 and provides valuable documentation on the many key events in 20th century China:

  • The bitter struggle−starting in 1927 and dominating Chinese politics for more than twenty years—between China’s Kuomintang forces and the Communists
  • Japanese occupation of Manchuria
  • Chiang’s military campaigns against the Communists, highlighted by Mao Tse-tung’s “Long March” with the Red Army
  • The Second Sino-Japanese War, commencing with Japan’s invasion of China in 1937 and merging into World War II in 1941

This collection is unique in that few, if any English-language sources, can match these U.S. military intelligence reports for comprehensive documentation of developments and events in China during the period between World War I and World War II. By 1918, the intelligence-gathering apparatus of the U.S. military had emerged as a distinct, wide-ranging and sophisticated arm of the nation’s diplomatic and defense organization.

Realizing that the intelligence needs of America transcended knowledge of purely military affairs, U.S. military attachés in China reported on a wide range of topics, including the internal politics, socioeconomic conditions, and foreign affairs of China. In these files, the same meticulous attention to detail that is brought to bear on such military matters as the manufacture of munitions, the mobilization and deployment of troops, and the strategies of individual campaigns is also brought to bear on political and diplomatic affairs, including social and political unrest, the influence of propaganda and the press, and the rise and fall of China’s political and military figures of the day. This collection of reports, correspondence, and memoranda, include interviews with military and governmental officials, evaluations of political parties and movements, and extensive eyewitness coverage and analyses of military actions, as well as recommendations for the direction of American policy.

A variety of materials comprise this collection, including:

  • Reports
  • Press clippings
  • Articles
  • Correspondence
  • Memoranda
  • Maps

Political, Economic, and Military Conditions in China: Reports and Correspondence of the U.S. Military Intelligence Division, 1918-1941 supports research and course work in Asian Studies, Chinese Studies, Military History, Political Studies, Conflict Studies, and Diplomatic Studies

Files included in this collection:

  • "General Conditions in China" (MID 2055)—Includes records pertaining to current political, economic, and social events and general trends in the military services. Most are periodic reports submitted weekly or monthly, each report covering several--sometimes diverse--subjects in an abbreviated format. Much of the information was drawn from newspapers or periodicals.
  • "Political Conditions, China" (MID 2657-1)—Includes records complementing the information on general conditions in MID 2055. This file contains attaché reports that give more detail concerning Chinese politics and foreign relations. There are numerous "Situation Reports" relating to the military situation within China, 1924-41 (MID 2657-1-276). 
  • "Economic Conditions, China" (MID 2655-1)—Includes reports compiled in the office of the military attaché from published government statistics, interviews with foreign industrialists, and articles appearing in newspapers and periodicals; also reports prepared in the office of the U.S. commercial attaché.
  • "Army, China" (MID 2009)—Includes reports pertaining to general conditions in the military services (including information on military organizations, personalities, national defense and preparedness, training, and maneuvers) and to observation of Chinese Army units. The reports relate to military engagements between warlords, clashes between Chiang Kai-shek and his fellow Nationalists, the campaigns against the Communists, and the efforts of the Nationalists against the Japanese.
  • "Navy, China" (MID 2733)—Includes records chiefly pertaining to the training of Chinese naval officers, appointment of officers, and the purchase of new gunboats.
  • "Aeronautics, China" (MID 2078)—Includes reports prepared by the assistant military attaché for air, mostly relating to military aviation, but some relating to civil aeronautics. These reports reflect an effort by the assistant attaché for air to systematically collect intelligence on the Chinese Air Corps.

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