1940s >> 1944 >> no-475-march-1944

Why Bother About the Burma Road ?

There has been quite a bit in the papers, one way and another, about getting supplies through to the Chinese. At one time it was simply a question of whether the British Government should open or close the Burma Road, but when the Japanese solved this problem by taking over the route themselves, plans were laid for the rapid building of a great new road from North India to “Free” China. We heard a great deal about the urgency and importance of the task of sending China the materials needed for the fight of the sorely beleagured Chinese troops in their effort to restore their country to freedom from the oppressing occupation of the War Lords of the Rising Sun. The Japanese had raped and pillaged, looted and burnt in the Chinese territory they occupied. The cruellest of soldiers, the most sadistic of foes, they had swept right into the very heart of China over a period of twelve years. Never had a people suffered so long and so much in modern times under the iron heel of the conqueror.

In view of what we have been told, therefore, it is surprising to read the following report in the Mancheter Guardian Weekly (December 17th, 1943): —

“Trade between Japanese occupied and Free China has recently taken on larger proportions on account of the Chinese Government’s endeavour to attract useful goods from enemy territory and the accelerated fall or the Japanese puppet currencies in terms of Chinese national dollars.
“Value of the known imports from occupied areas to Free China during the last six months, according to a Government spokesman, was £1,250,000 sterling on Government account, and £25,000,000 through commercial channels.”

So why bother about building new roads or reopening old ones? It seems that British supplies might be shipped to Chunking via Tokio so long, as the label was correctly addressed. Nobody would be a bit less happy surely—unless it were the Chinese soldiers if it turned out that British raw materials did not’furnish such good weapons to kill the Japs with as Japanese produced supplies.

N. S.

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