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

No. 2286

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s telegram no. 422, March 4, 3 [4] p.m. in regard to an attack on an American military convoy on February 19 some 40 miles east of Amichow–Kaiyuan, Yunnan, and to the Embassy’s despatch no. 2285, March 11, 1944 and other correspondence in regard to two previous attacks upon Army convoys in the same general area.

This third serious attack was first brought to the Embassy’s attention by Mr. J. S. Service, Second Secretary detailed to General Stilwell’s22 headquarters, who had been instructed by that headquarters to inform the Embassy of the incident by delivering to us a copy of a letter of March 3, 1944 which Major General T. G. Hearn, General Stilwell’s Chief of Staff, had addressed to General Shang Chen, Director of the Foreign Affairs Bureau of the National Military Council. A copy of this letter is enclosed.23

In his despatch no. 36, March 1, 1944 (copy enclosed)24 the Consul at Kunming gives an account of the incident which is substantially the same as that contained in General Hearn’s letter which was summarized in the Embassy’s telegram under reference, and states that although Headquarters Y Force had reported the matter to Headquarters in Chungking it had not so far lodged a protest with the Kunming Chinese military authorities and had not officially informed the Consulate General, but that pending the receipt of adequate reparation and assurances that the situation is under control, it had suspended the military training program in southern Yunnan.

In the temporary absence of the Foreign Minister I saw the Political Vice Foreign Minister, Dr. K. C. Wu, on March 7 and handed him a note on the subject dated March 4, 1944, a copy of which is also enclosed,23 together with a copy of a memorandum of my conversation with him.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
[Page 1107]

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador in China (Gauss)

I called by appointment at 4 p.m. yesterday on Dr. Wu (in the absence from Chungking of Dr. T. V. Soong, the Minister for Foreign Affairs) and handed him my formal note of March 4th, addressed to> the Foreign Minister, in reference to the bandit attack on the American military convoy in the Kaiyuan district of Yunnan. I made comment on this matter to Dr. Wu along the lines of the note, expressing my deep concern as to the effect of a continuance of these incidents on the relations between our military people and the Chinese; in fact, on the problem of American assistance to China in the war—assistance which China has been asking for so persistently and which, when given, is complicated by incidents such as these.

Dr. Wu expressed himself as greatly concerned over this and the preceding incidents. He said that my note to the Foreign Minister would be brought immediately to the attention of the Generalissimo, who, he knew, is much exercised over the situation.

Dr. Wu then went on—saying he was speaking privately and not officially—to tell me that he has been having conversations on this-important subject with Yunnan representatives in Chungking. They had pointed out to him that there are large areas of Yunnan, especially in the south and southeast, which are thinly populated, or not populated at all, jungle areas near the French Indo-China border, and other areas not unlike our “wild and wooly west”, where there are few inhabitants and where bandits can move about at will, where it is difficult to find them and suppress them, etc., etc., all more or less like, at one period, we found the situation in the West in the United States. He then went on to say that these Yunnan representatives had emphasized the desirability of our Army informing the provincial government whenever convoys are being sent out through such areas, in order that protection may be given.

I commented that the U.S. Army cannot be expected to ask permission and inform the Yunnan provincial officials when and as our military people travel throughout the province to join Chinese military units for instruction purposes; after all, we are out here—as the Yunnan provincial government should know and as the people in Yunnan should be made to understand—to help China, and we must be able to move about freely in doing so. It is the Chinese Government’s responsibility to see to law and order behind the military lines, so that our assistance to China can be given without such incidents occurring.

In further discussion of the matter, in which Dr. Wu emphasized the desirability of cooperation between our military and the Chinese in [Page 1108] regard to travel through bandit areas, he suggested that perhaps any restrictions might be applied only as to certain areas in which bandit difficulties were being found. He wanted to know whether I could not do something in advising our military to work out some arrangement with the Yunnan authorities for such special areas. I suggested that it seemed to me that anything of that sort should be worked out on the spot in Kunming. The Yunnan authorities might be well advised to establish friendly liaison with our “Y” Force Headquarters. The Yunnan authorities certainly must receive reports from time to time that bandits are operating in this, that or the other area of certain hsien districts. Would it not be possible for them to pass such information on to the “Y” Force Headquarters as it is received, from time to time, and then perhaps to suggest to such Headquarters that if convoys are passing through one of the affected areas at such a time, there be liaison between the Y headquarters and the Yunnan authorities, so that if necessary special precautions might be taken by the Yunnan authorities to see that the convoy passes safely and without molestation. This will place a great responsibility on the Yunnan authorities, of course. I did not believe that the U.S. Army authorities could agree to any arrangement which would restrict the movement of our people—any arrangement requiring advance notice, the awaiting of “permission”, or anything of that sort—but perhaps they might find it desirable, if the Yunnan authorities evidenced a desire to cooperate by keeping our Army people informed of what was transpiring in the bandit suppression efforts—by giving them information on various districts and routes, etc., etc.—our Army authorities on their part might be willing to try to meet the situation in a realistic way in liaison with the Yunnan authorities.

In short—our Army would not be asked to report to the Yunnan authorities whenever a convoy is leaving, asking permission or awaiting an “all clear”; but they could be informed by the responsible Chinese authorities of the developments in the bandit situation, being told of this, that or another route, and, when they saw fit, informing the Yunnan authorities of the probable despatch of a convoy, putting the Yunnan authorities on notice so that they could take any necessary precautionary measures along the route to ensure that the convoy passes in safety.

Dr. Wu said that he thought that he would have a talk along these lines with General Shang Chen, the director of the Foreign Affairs section of the Military Council.

As I left, Dr. Wu again said that he would see that the Generalissimo is informed immediately of the matter—he would bring my formal note on the subject to his attention.

C. E. Gauss
  1. Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, Commanding General, U. S. Army Forces in China, Burma, and India.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Ante, p. 1102.
  4. Not printed.