The Consul at Canton (Burke) to the Ambassador in China (Stuart)4

No. 13

Sir: I have the honor to report that on February 27 and March 1, 1948, Attaché Joseph A. Yager of this Consulate General called on General Huang Chen-chiu, Deputy Director of the President’s Canton Headquarters and concurrently commander of pacification forces in Kwangtung, to obtain General Huang’s opinion on the progress of the current campaign against Communist guerrillas and bandits in this province.

During the first of the two interviews, General Huang devoted most of his time to an explanation of the problem of banditry as he sees it. He distinguished four kinds of bandits:

Ordinary bandits without political coloration, who are to be enrolled in the Peace Preservation Corps.
Incorrigible Communists, who are to be beheaded.
Bandits merely tainted with Communism, who are to be reeducated in special schools.
Bandits under Communist leaders, but not infected with Communist ideology. These receive what would appear to be the best treatment and are to be paroled in the custody of their village elders.

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It will be noted that the United Democratic Army does not appear as a separate category in the above. Huang regards the UDA as an ordinary group of non-political bandits, who enjoy using the fine title and the funds supplied by Li Chi-shen. In Huang’s opinion, Li has no control over the UDA and subsidizes it (to an unspecified extent) only because of its propaganda value to himself. On Li’s relations with the Communists, Huang expressed the opinion that Li and the Communists do not really cooperate, but merely use one another. All things considered, Huang does not believe that Li has any military strength in Kwangtung, either directly or indirectly.

During the interview of February 27, General Huang did not go into geographical detail on the state of law and order in Kwangtung, but limited himself to the assertion that progress was being made in the suppression of banditry. He stated that only on Hainan do the Communists control any large areas, although guerrillas are still a problem on Luichow Peninsula and along the North and East Rivers. Occasion was taken to request a second interview on March 1, when the French Consulate kindly loaned this office a Communist propaganda map purporting to show the status of “liberated areas” throughout China.* By showing General Huang this map, it was possible to obtain a somewhat more precise picture of the locality of bandit or guerrilla operations. General Huang agreed with the map’s showing most of Hainan to be either Communist controlled or guerrilla infested. He did not agree that the same is true of the southern half of Luichow Peninsula, although he admitted a guerrilla problem exists in the northern half, and to a lesser extent in the mainland areas north of the peninsula. He disputed the wide extent of Communist influence shown for far western Kwangtung and for the southwestern corner of the Canton delta, although he granted a minor problem of banditry in those districts. His disagreement with the map on the North and East River valleys and on the area immediately north of Swatow was less violent, although again, he said that the map exaggerated. In brief, the extent of his disagreement with the Communist map was less than might have been expected. Especially notable was his failure to challenge the Communist claim that all bandit areas are under Communist influence (i.e., “liberated”).

Respectfully yours,

Gordon L. Burke
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul without covering despatch; received March 25.
  2. This map, dated November 14, 1947, appears to have been published in Hong Kong by the Liberated Map Society, to have been prepared by Yang Jen-hang, to have been checked by Chiao Mu, and to have been sold either by Ching Pao of Hong Kong or by the Singapore branch of the New China Agency. [Footnote in the original.]