NOW that the war in China is nearing the end of its fourth year we have settled down to the habit of thinking of it as not only a stalemate but a permanent stalemate. We may be wrong. Forces already at work in Asia, and forces hitherto latent but capable of coming into operation now that China and Japan are more and more being left to themselves, may break the stalemate in the Far East before the struggle is over in Europe.
The degree to which China and Japan are now being forced to test, develop and improvise from their own resources fixes the main outlines of the present picture. The Chinese and the Japanese fought each other to a standstill after several years in which both were able to draw on outside munitions and resources -- the Japanese much more than the Chinese. Will the stalemate hold now that no outside Power can supply the finished munitions or war materials to enable either to force a decision in a few months? For the first time since 1937 no outside Power can do much more than urge the desirability of its own particular views or policies. Negative pressure can be applied. Decisive aid cannot be supplied.
For Japan this means an uneasy choice between using her accumulated but largely irreplaceable stocks in a prolonged war against China, or temporizing with China and proceeding to gamble her whole future in Southeastern Asia. A great deal, obviously, depends on China. Will she accept a compromise peace that would suit Germany, thereby enabling Japan to turn south against the Dutch East Indies and Singapore? Or will she split up in civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communists, which would incalculably increase the freedom of manœuvre of both Germany and Japan? Or will she endure indefinitely the stalemate, which would suit the present trend of Anglo-American policy? Or will she choose to find a way to break the stalemate on her own terms and
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