893.00/14340: Telegram

The Chargé in China ( Peck ) to the Secretary of State

144. Further reference to the Embassy’s 129, February 23, 1 [3] p.m., the Embassy now learns direct from John Foster, the American informant mentioned therein, that the number of regular and irregular (guerrilla) troops in and under the control of the Eighth Route Army in North China at present totals about 320,000. The foregoing figure excludes self-defense units which are to be found in almost every village of the Chinese occupied areas of Shansi and Hopei and whose sole function is to engage in the defense of the villages. Informant was unable to state proportions of regulars and irregulars but gave it as his opinion that the strength of the three regular divisions comprising the Eighth Route Army has been greatly expanded from the reported pre-war strength of 15,000 men in each division.

The informant also related that a new border government modeled on that in the Wutai area is now in the process of being established by the Chinese Communists in southeastern Shansi, southwestern Hopei and northwestern Honan.

Contrary to the view expressed in the penultimate paragraph of Embassy’s 129, February 23, 1 [3] p.m., the informant was decidedly of the opinion that the Chinese Communists are exerting every means to preserve the United Front, that they have a feeling of great respect for the Generalissimo, that the main communist criticism is at present directed toward certain reputed fascist and peace elements in the Kuomintang, and that the propagation of communist political policy in North China is being subordinated to the mobilization of the populace and the fanning of the anti-Japanese spirit among them.

Repeated to Peiping.