894A.00/3–547: Telegram

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

456. Ministry of Information regular weekly press conference March 5th on subject of riots at Taiwan as follows: [Page 432]

“Query: Please give all available details of recent uprising in Formosa. How many people were killed, wounded and imprisoned. What were the basic causes of the uprising and what steps has the Government taken to prevent further uprising. In how many places, that is what sections of Formosa, did the rioting spread. Did anyone go from China proper to investigate the uprising.”

Answer follows: “The riots in Taiwan were caused by enforcement of regulations against unauthorized cigarette dealers. As you know, there is a tobacco monopoly in Taiwan, and the prevention of smuggling and bootlegging has caused repeated incidents, resulting in the riots of the last few days.

“The riots have subsided. The exact number of people killed and wounded are not yet known. According to the Central News Agency, up to March 3rd the number of Taiwan natives killed or wounded is by then 100, and that of other provinces amounts to about 400. Governor Chen Yi has promised to take a very lenient attitude.”

Minister Peng Hsueh-pei added that majority of riots had taken place at Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Takao as well as minor disturbances at an unknown number of other places.