The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State

No. 2162

Sir: Referring to the Embassy’s despatch no. 2112 of February 2, 1944,61 in regard to reported unrest among Chinese peasants as a result of construction work on airfield projects in the vicinity of Chengtu, I have the honor to enclose a copy of a memorandum of February 11, 1944,61 prepared by Second Secretary John S. Service, on detail to General Stilwell’s staff, on this subject.

[Page 22]

Summary. There has been bitter criticism by some Chinese of the Central Government’s administration of the airfield construction work near Chengtu. It is charged that land has been taken without payment, that owners of land adjacent to the projects have had to pay a special tax and that conscripted labor was being insufficiently paid. It is reported that unpaid laborers in or near Chengtu have staged a riot. The criticism is directed against the Chungking authorities, but some Chinese admit that the Chinese authorities at Chengtu might be inclined to divert popular resentment against Americans. End of Summary.

Although these projects are supposedly secret, knowledge of them is apparently widespread among Chinese at Chungking who speak of fields being built to provide facilities for 2,000 planes. One Chinese source states that it is reported that owners of land needed for this project are being paid a price equivalent to one-third of the value of their land and that during a recent riot by land-owning peasants in the Kwanghan (northeast of Chengtu) area the district magistrate was killed.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
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