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

No. 2100

Sir: Referring to the Embassy’s despatch No. 2030 of January 15, 1944, in regard to Kuomintang-Communist relations, I have the honor to enclose a copy of despatch No. 10 of January 24, 1944, from the Secretary on detail at Sian on this subject.40

Summary. Mr. Drumright reports that Central Government military preparations in the areas surrounding Communist-controlled territory continue on a large scale and that on January 19 he saw thousands of Szechuan troops moving north along the highway between Paocheng and Paoki. (In an informal report to the Embassy, Mr. Drumright described these troops as the most tattered, torn, tired and famished group of soldiers he had ever seen, many of whom were literally skin and bones and some of whom would perhaps die before reaching Paoki—troops who are not now and probably never will be in a condition to fight either the Japanese or the Communists.) A high Chinese military official informed Mr. Drumright that the Central Government is preparing to annihilate the Communists if they attempt to expand their territory or to break the blockade of Communist-controlled north Shensi but that the Central Government will not make the error of attacking the Communists. The local authorities at Sian have recently removed the radio apparatus from the Sian headquarters of the 18th Group Army [Communist] but the headquarters has not been closed. End of Summary.

Mr. Drumright’s informant describes the economic situation in Communist-controlled north Shensi as going from bad to worse due to the acute shortage of foodstuffs made more serious by the large concentration of Communist troops in that area. This official estimates that the food shortage in Communist-controlled Shensi will be so acute by April of this year that the Communists may be faced with the alternative of reducing their troop concentrations or of attempting to break the Government’s blockade. If the Central Government’s blockade can be made sufficiently stringent to prevent the transport of food supplies into the Communist-controlled areas it is possible that one of Chungking’s chief hopes may lie in forcing the withdrawal of some of [Page 317] the Communist forces from the Border Region to Hopei and Shantung, thus weakening the Border Region defenses and the position of the Communists.

The Embassy has not heard from other sources of the possibility of a food shortage in the Communist areas but is reliably informed that the policy of the Border Region Government is to welcome famine and flood refugees from other areas because of the lack of manpower in the Border Region. In order to increase food production, the local authorities in the Communist areas are said to allot land, seed and implements to such refugees. Whether this policy has succeeded in increasing food production is not known; while the Communists themselves admit that there was a serious food shortage in the Communist areas two years ago, they maintain that the use of all able-bodied men in agricultural work during 1942–43 resulted in a harvest sufficient to take care of the needs of the area.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
  1. Not printed.