740.0011 Pacific War/1–445

The Second Secretary of Embassy in China ( Rice ) to the Appointed Ambassador in China ( Hurley )26

No. 105

Sir: Reference is made to my despatch to the Embassy no. 104, January 3, 194527 entitled, “Recent Personnel Changes in the First War Area” in which mention was made of efforts being put forth by General Kuo Ch’i-ch’iao to improve conditions affecting Chinese forces in Honan province. I have the honor now to report as follows in regard to the attitude of the people toward the Chinese military in that province.

Two foreigners who recently made extended trips through unoccupied Honan state that there still obtain there the conditions which set the peasantry against the Chinese military and which facilitated the rapid advance through Honan last spring of Japanese forces. These conditions, in brief, comprise the existence of heavy taxation, illegal exactions and high-handed behaviour by the military. One reason for popular discontent is that the people believe the military whom they are supporting by their toil will, in case of Japanese attack, retreat without putting up a fight. (A divisional commander at Neihsiang, Honan, admitted to one of the above-mentioned foreigners, “At present we do not bother the Japanese and they do not bother us. If they advance, we shall simply withdraw.”)

One of my informants mentions having in a number of places heard Chinese say that they would be glad if the Japanese did come. Apparently this attitude springs not only from a belief that conditions under the Japanese would be no worse and might be better, but also from a vengeful desire to see the Chinese military in Honan overthrown. Illustrative of this vengeful attitude were remarks made to the other informant by a Chinese resident of a small town in Honan. He recounted that, during the Japanese campaign in that province in 1944, about 2000 Chinese troops fleeing before the Japanese paused [Page 28] to loot that town. They were so intent on looting that they failed to maintain a proper lookout with the result that the Japanese surprised and completely annihilated them. The Chinese added, “Naturally, not a tear was shed in my town for the death of those troops.”

Respectfully yours,

Edward E. Rice
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Second Secretary of Embassy without covering despatch on January 29; received February 10.
  2. Not printed.