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

No. 2257

Sir: Referring to the Embassy’s despatch no. 2162 of February 15, 1944, in regard to reported Chinese unrest as a result of construction work on airfields near Chengtu, I have the honor to enclose82 (a) copy of despatch no. 34 of February 17, 1944, from the Secretary on detail at Chengtu and (b) copy of memorandum of February 26, 1944, from Second Secretary John S. Service, on detail to General Stilwell’s staff, in regard to this matter.

Summary. Mr. Stevens reports that there have recently been isolated instances of Chinese opposition to the requisition by the Chinese authorities of farm lands for the construction of airfields in the Chengtu area but that the opposition has not been widespread nor has it been directed against the United States. He states that the principal subject of complaint has been the inadequacy of allowances for moving expense given to dispossessed families and that he has heard of no complaints of inadequate payments.

Mr. Service views the subject from the angle of the impact of the American Army on the Chengtu area. He states that when the projects were begun in the Chengtu area a number of incidents occurred which gave the impression of opposition to the projects and unfriendliness [Page 29] to the American Army but that after payment had been made for most of the land taken for the projects violent opposition ceased and apparently the most likely immediate cause of the incidents was removed. He describes the general attitude toward the projects among all classes of Chinese as one of apprehension and states that with the lack of interest in the war, strong provincialism and the latent anti-foreign feeling in the Chengtu area there is the possibility that this apprehension may turn to more active resentment. Local apprehensions have arisen in connection with various questions and factors involved in the newly created situation as follows: payment for land, crops and homes (owners and tenants did not receive compensation for previous Chinese airfield construction in this area, including many of the fields now being improved); return of the conscript laborers to their homes in time to harvest winter crops and plant summer rice; suspicion by provincial interests of increased Central Government influence; possibility of friction with and incidents arising from presence of American troops in this area; possible Japanese bombing of the area; and relation between large numbers of American troops and inflation. Mr. Service states that the most important need is effective price control measures by the Chinese authorities to prevent runaway price increases and that the projects should be pushed to completion as soon as possible. End of Summary.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
  1. Enclosures not printed.