The Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Rice) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 16.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch to the Department no. 3, July 19, 194422 entitled, “Information, Chiefly Military in Character, Supplied by Yeh Chien-ying, Chief of Staff of the Communist Eighteenth Group Army”, and to report as follows information in regard to the organization and expansion of Communist-controlled areas of Shantung, Kiangsu, Anhwei and Honan. Except where otherwise noted, this information was obtained from a Chinese intelligence agent of medium-high rank who states that he worked for seven years in Shantung and in the Shantung–Kiangsu–Anhwei–Honan border area, which areas he left last autumn. The statistical and other data he supplied was, he says, as of October, 1944; this data I have supplemented where possible with other, more recent, information obtained through other non-Communist sources. While not unbiased, these informants, in my opinion, present a more balanced picture than I would expect of Central Government officers and employees.
Summary: Central Government agents state that the Chinese Communists, in their base areas of Shantung and adjacent provinces, engage in what would appear to be careful and intensive organization and training of the rural populace. After the Chinese defeat in Honan in the spring of 1944 the Communists, they state, moved forces from nearby base areas into the great central plain which comprises [Page 165] a great part of Honan and portions of provinces adjoining it on the east. (End of Summary.)
Communist Political Organization of the Populace: In Shantung ultimate responsibility for all Communist Party, governmental and military affairs rests with the Communist Party Political Bureau. (There is appended to this dispatch an enclosure entitled, “The Organization and Personnel of the Communist Party’s Political Bureau, Shantung Branch”.23)
On the lower levels, chiefs of the pao and chia are elected by the people, but the Political Bureau maintains one to three of its subordinates in each village. These subordinates comprise People’s Movement Directors and so-called Communications Officers. The afore-mentioned Directors are charged with the supervision of the pao and chia chiefs. They also organize all the people of their villages (according to the age-groups into which they fall) into Scouts, Youth Corps, Women’s Corps, Abie-Bodied Corps and Old People’s Corps. The members of these corps are given training through small group discussion meetings, news reports, teaching of illiterates to read, singing contests, political symposiums, production discussions and farming exhibits. The Communications Officers supervise the work of the People’s Movement Directors and carry out other duties described elsewhere in this despatch.
The more promising youngsters of the Youth Corps are selected by the Communications Officers and are sent to the village agricultural schools—of which there is one in almost every village—or to the so-called Cadres Training Schools. The best students from these latter schools are picked for employment in positions of a low degree of responsibility in the government or in the army; the rest are sent back to their villages to become assistants to the People’s Movement Directors.
Communist Military Organization of the Populace: The People’s Movement Directors organize the populace of each village into home guard and self-defense corps called [here follow four Chinese characters]. Members of these units ordinarily do not fight except in case of attacks on their villages when they may be issued hand-grenades and are led by the responsible Communications Officer. If, at such times, members of these corps flee their whole families are punished so usually they are afraid not to stand and fight.
Villagers who are found to possess guns are gathered together and enrolled in armed units which are taken to the towns where the hsien (district) government is situated. After receiving military training they constitute local armed forces which do not engage in regular [Page 166] productive activities. The best soldiers are removed from these local armed units and are enrolled in the Red Army. (There are appended to this report lists24 of regular Red Army units in Shantung and in adjacent areas of Anhwei and Honan. It will be noted that these lists show the designations of the units, the names of their commanders, the areas in which they are stationed and the numerical strength of each.)
Regular Red Army forces known to be stationed in Shantung total about 85,000 men; Red Army forces known to be stationed in adjacent areas of Anhwei and Honan number about 25,000.
When troops are on the march the Communications Officers are responsible for informing the People’s Movement Directors in the next village. The latter in turn inform the pao and chia chiefs who furnish foodstuffs for the troops from local stores, where they have been placed as collections of the bi-annual tax in kind. Each soldier, it might be added, is given two ration tickets a day, each good for at least twelve ounces of millet or flour.
Gathering and Transmission of Intelligence: Closely allied to the Communist military organizations are the Investigation Units. There is one of these in each village; they are subject to the control of the aforementioned Communications Officers. Members of these units take turns on duty at important points along routes of travel. Anyone coming in from the outside is met and investigated or interrogated by these persons. Besides gathering intelligence, the Investigation Units quickly transmit orders and important information onward to similar units stationed in adjoining villages.
Communist Treatment of the People: The Chinese intelligence agent who supplied most of the information contained in this despatch states that in general the Communists treat the people well and treat them particularly well when first coming into an area. People of the educated classes they first try to talk over to their way of thinking; if that does not work, they put them through a period of training locally. The particularly stubborn are sent away for further indoctrination—if such further training does no good they are destroyed.
(A postal employee from a Communist-controlled area of south Shansi and northern Honan more or less confirms the information contained in the preceding paragraph. The poor, he says, are treated well; the rich are persuaded to contribute money but “usually are not shot”. People under 30, he says, have to a large extent been won over by the Communists through incessant meetings, propaganda and intimidation.)
Expansion of Communist Sphere: Since the defeat of Central Government forces in Honan during the spring of 1944, Communist units [Page 167] have been filtering into that province as well as into areas neighboring on it. According to several informants of Bishop Thomas Megan (leader of the Tutaotuan—a Chinese intelligence organization) small groups of Communists (the 41st and 42d Regiments of the 386th Brigade, according to one informant) have crossed the Yellow River and have filtered into the Mienchih and Loning areas west of Loyang and into the Kunghsien area east of that city. (The longitude and latitude of these places, as well as of towns subsequently mentioned in this despatch, are shown on a separate sheet which is appended hereto.25)
(Another informant says that the Communists occupy the town of Linhsien, Honan and sometimes occupy and sometimes evacuate before Japanese incursions the town of Shehsien, Honan; he also says they occupy the countryside near Siuwu, Honan. He does not, however, state whether the Communists moved into these districts of northern Honan before or after the Japanese 1944 spring offensive in that province.)
The Chinese intelligence officer (referred to as the principal source of the information in this despatch) speaks of what he describes as an attempt of the Reds to take advantage of the recent Chinese defeat in Honan—moving in forces from Shantung, Kiangsu, Hupeh and other parts of Honan—to create a large new strip of Communist territory in that part of north central China frequently spoken of as the Central Plain. The following alleged movements of Communist forces were made, he states, as parts of that plan: (1) In June units of the Communist 115th division occupied Tangshan, in northwest Kiangsu and the 11th district of western Shantung. (2) In July units of the New Fourth Army crossed the Tientsin-Pukow Railway and penetrated westward into the area of Fenghsien, Kiangsu, and Peihsien, Kiangsu. (3) Early in August troops of the 115th Division, Chiao Fourth Brigade, attacked Central Government guerrillas in north Kiangsu. (4) In mid-August over 3,000 men of the 25th and 27th Regiments under P’eng Hsüeh-feng crossed the Tientsin–Pukow Railway and entered the Kwei River area south of Suhsien, in northwest Anhwei. (5) In the latter part of August 5,000 Communists from the area of Kihsien and Suihsien in Honan moved southward into the area just north of Hwaiyang, Honan. At the end of the same month 7,000 men subordinate to Ch’en Kuang moved south from western Shantung into Tangshan–Siayi–Yungcheng area of north-westernmost Kiangsu and southeasternmost Honan. (6) During early September over 3,000 men under Li Hsien-nien left Hupeh and entered the Loshan–Chengyang area, east of the Peiping–Hankow line [Page 168] in south Honan. (7) In mid-September Communist forces appeared in Sihwa and Fukow districts of central-eastern Honan.
If the foregoing information is essentially correct, it would appear that the preservation of the power and prestige of the Central Government, vis-à-vis the Communists, would be better served by the expending in guerrilla areas of some of the resources and effort now being expended for the maintenance in idleness of some hundreds of thousands of troops in Shensi and Kansu who are supposed to be containing the Communists within the present boundaries of their Shensi–Kansu–Ningsia Border Area. By all accounts, the Communists maintain but small forces in that Border Area and are utilizing their main forces elsewhere. It would seem that when the Central Government forces lose control of an area their loss is a double one—the main cities and transport lines are lost to the Japanese and control of the country districts is lost to the Communists.
Approved for transmission:
For the Ambassador:
George Atcheson, Jr.
Counselor of Embassy