The Ambassador in China ( Gauss ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 17.]
Sir: I have the honor to enclose a copy of despatch No. 100, January 19, 1944 from the Vice Consul at Kweilin, transmitting a copy of a memorandum of January 14, 194437 on US Army–local press relations at Kweilin, prepared by Mr. Graham Peck, Kweilin representative of the OWI.38
Summary of Memorandum. In October and November 1943 excellent relations existed between the Forward Echelon, 14th US Air Force, and the Kweilin local press but these relations deteriorated early in December when instructions were received from the Army Public Relations Office at Chungking ordering the PRO of the Forward Echelon to cease issuing local news releases. By the end of December permission was granted for the resumption of this service but much of the goodwill of local newspaper representatives was lost as a result of the temporary change in policy. The undesirable results of delays in the release of news at Kweilin of 14th Air Force activities are illustrated by the handling of news of a bombing raid on Formosa on January 11. At the time of the raid the entire populace of Kweilin was well aware that an operation of unusual importance was taking place; on January 12 the Japanese radio reported the raid and on January 13 it was reported from New Delhi, but the official Army communiqué was not received in Kweilin until January 14. Tardy release of important news of this type is detrimental to relations with the Chinese press and creates confusion which detracts from the prestige of our war effort in China. Relations with the Kweilin edition of the Ta Kung Pao, generally regarded as the leading independent newspaper in China, suffered as a result of delay in receipt of approval from Chungking of a plan to drop copies of a special edition of this paper in occupied areas following the Changteh victory. End of Summary.
In his despatch Mr. Service refers to another memorandum prepared by Mr. Peck in September 194339 in which were described the [Page 12] dangers to security of the air field and other undesirable features of the then existing ban on the issuance to the local press of air force activity news other than the delayed and brief communiqués from Army headquarters at Chungking. In a town so close to an active airfield as is Kweilin such perfunctory coverage is naturally unacceptable and Kweilin editors therefore resorted to printing rumors, buying information from Chinese employed at the airfields, and similar practices. This situation was rectified soon after Mr. Peck’s first memorandum was written. His memorandum transmitted herewith brings the situation up to date.
Copies of both memoranda have been furnished the US Army headquarters at Chungking.