15. Circular Airgram From the United States Information Agency to All United States Information Service Posts1



  • The China Reporting Program

SUMMARY: Communist China is intensifying its diplomatic, cultural, economic and propaganda offense in virtually every corner of the globe. This poses new problems for the United States and requires a continuing search for effective means to meet this challenge. USIS Hong Kong’s China Reporting Program, which produces information materials to help counter Communist China’s propaganda efforts, can play an important role in assisting USIA posts and other mission elements meet this problem. The Director requests that all USIA posts understand and take full advantage of this program.


The Sino-Soviet dispute has resulted in Communist China’s assuming an increasingly independent foreign policy line from the Soviet Union. This development requires our treating Communist China as a subject of special concern separate from the Soviet Union. As Peiping2 attempts to pass itself off as a model of economic development and the political “wave of the future” in underdeveloped areas and steps up its diplomatic and commercial offensive in Europe and elsewhere, there is an increasing need for material to expose Communist China as a threat to the peace, progress, and freedom of the non-communist world. The China Reporting Program, conducted by USIS Hong Kong, attempts to supply posts world-wide with such materials.

In a recent memorandum to each Area Director, the Director requested that they insure individual field posts understand and are taking full advantage of the China Reporting Program.3 This circular furnishes a brief description of the program, the materials that are [Page 39] available, and recommends ways that posts may use the program to their advantage.


The China Reporting Program (CRP) is USIA’s principal vehicle for furnishing our posts and missions world-wide with corrective, current, factual information materials about Communist China as a means of countering Peiping’s propaganda efforts. The materials consist of books, pamphlets, news stories, articles, photographs, and taped radio features. All CRP materials are available from USIS Hong Kong in English, and some of them are also available in other languages. NO CRP PRODUCTS ARE ATTRIBUTED TO USIA OR THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.4


1. Current Scene—A bi-weekly newsletter,5 in English, containing scholarly articles analyzing major political, economic, and other developments in Communist China. These articles are written by recognized authorities on Communist Chinese affairs or by the USIS Hong Kong staff from well documented sources.6 The tone is factual and objective. At present Current Scene has a circulation of approximately 2,500, going to key foreign opinion leaders, government officials, newspaper editors and writers, libraries, universities and individual scholars. It is frequently cited as a reference by outstanding publications in the field of Chinese affairs such as The China Quarterly, and has been picked up in whole or in part on occasions by the BBC, Radio Australia, Times of India, The Economist, Agence France Presse, and countless other media outlets. A Japanese edition, published at Japanese initiative and at no cost to USIA, reaches 5,000 key Government and academic readers in that country. Current Scene is designed for an elite audience and for the most part is mailed directly to individual recipients from Hong Kong. Collectively, it also makes an excellent reference for staff use. Plans are under consideration for making Current Scene available in French and Spanish.

2. China Reporting Service (CRS)—News, features, photographs about Communist China on a more popular level and designed primarily for press and magazine placement.7 CRS is produced bi-weekly in [Page 40] English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, and goes regularly now to 93 countries.8 Direct mail recipients include 274 newspapers and correspondents, 30 magazines, 21 radio and television stations, 78 libraries, organizations and individuals as well as 120 USIS posts, many of which also make distribution to mass media outlets.

3. Books and Pamphlets—Original books, pamphlets, photobooks, mostly authored by scholars and authorities from several countries on Chinese Communist affairs.9 Since the inception of the CRP book program in 1955, USIS Hong Kong has produced some 72 titles, many going into multiple editions. A catalogue sent recently to all posts describes books and pamphlets still available from Hong Kong.

There has been a total of 63 translations of CRP books on Communist China in 25 different languages undertaken by various posts in editions ranging from 2,500 to 15,000. Translations of CRP books are undertaken at the initiative of individual posts, which usually try to interest local publishers in producing the books for commercial distribution. The Agency has language rights for almost all CRP books.10 In 1963, more than 642,000 copies of CRP books were produced: USIS Hong Kong—250,000 copies in English (including 7 new titles); 47,000 reprints in English published in other countries; translations by other posts—over 345,000 copies. Recent CRP books include: Children of China, by Margaret Wylie (Introduction by Pearl Buck); The Peasant and the Communes, by Henry J. Lethbridge (selected as one of the Agency’s “Books That Count”); and Workers of China, by K.E. Priestley.

4. Report on China11—Bi-weekly five-minute taped radio features, based on China Reporting Service news releases, and designed for local radio placement. Through facilitative assistance from USIS Mexico City and USIS Beirut, these tapes are available to posts in Spanish, French, English, and Arabic. English and foreign language texts accompany all tapes. Arrangements for direct mailing of the tapes can be made with USIS Hong Kong, which will furnish any post interested with details of this service.


Sample copies of China Reporting Program materials are sent regularly to each USIS post unless the post instructs USIS Hong Kong to [Page 41] the contrary. Each post, in turn, is expected to determine the usefulness of the materials and order the quantities which can be used effectively. In some cases posts distribute the materials directly to target audiences. In other cases where political conditions preclude the possibility or desirability of direct distribution, posts can elect to furnish USIS Hong Kong with the names and addresses of individuals or institutions, and the materials are mailed directly to the addressees without involving the post. NOTE: NO MATERIALS ARE MAILED TO ANY INDIVIDUAL OR INSTITUTION IN A COUNTRY WITHOUT THE CONCURRENCE OF THE POST CONCERNED.


1. All posts should be familiar with the operation of the China Reporting Program and its products. The Agency is fully aware that special circumstances in certain countries may limit the degree to which CRP materials can be effectively distributed. However, the materials can furnish useful background and talking points for officers where placement in local media is not possible. Further, the Agency recommends that where applicable, posts should bring CRP materials to the attention of other elements of missions such as labor, commercial, and agricultural attaches, who may wish to receive some of the items and who may have additional suggestions for their use.

2. Careful study should be made of the possibilities for unattributed direct mailing of CRP materials from Hong Kong to individuals or institutions likely to have an interest in Communist Chinese affairs, in instances where USIS distribution is not practical or desirable. Posts may furnish USIS Hong Kong with the names and addresses of recipients, for materials selected by the post, and these will be mailed directly from Hong Kong without attribution to USIA or the USG.12

3. The Agency recommends that posts assign one individual responsibility for liaison with USIS Hong Kong on China Reporting Program matters.

4. Since CRP materials are produced for general world-wide use13 rather than for a specific area of country, this poses problems in terms of tailoring products for special needs of individual posts. However, to the extent of its resources, USIS Hong Kong will make every attempt to provide special materials when requested.

[Page 42]

In this connection, USIS Hong Kong actively seeks and would welcome suggestions from all posts on ways to improve existing CRP materials; ideas for books, articles, pamphlets; other suggestions for making the program more effective. Such suggestions should be sent jointly to USIS Hong Kong and USIA/IAF Washington.

5. The Agency recommends that all posts consider potential contributors to the China Reporting Program. USIS Hong Kong would appreciate hearing about recognized writers, journalists, scholars dealing with contemporary Chinese Communist affairs who might be interested in writing a CRP book or articles for Current Scene. USIS Hong Kong is prepared to pay reasonable prices for such contributions.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, DIRCTR Subj. Files, 1963–69, Bx 6–29 63–69: Acc: #72A5121, Entry UD WW 257, Box 16, Far East (IAF) May/Dec. 1964. Confidential. Drafted by Payeff and Bunce on May 7; cleared by Sorensen, Ryan, Roberts, Lincoln, Miller, Brady, Green, Guthrie, and McKisson; approved by Rowan. In the upper right-hand corner of the first page, Rowan signed his initials “CTR.” According to a time stamp in the lower right-hand corner, the message was cleared for transmission on May 15. Sent for information to Bucharest, Budapest, Prague, Sofia, Moscow, and Warsaw (from Rusk). Sent via air pouch.
  2. Beijing.
  3. Not further identified.
  4. An unknown hand underlined this sentence.
  5. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “A bi-weekly newsletter.”
  6. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “are written by recognized authorities on Communist Chinese affairs.”
  7. An unknown hand underlined the words “News,” “features,” “photographs,” “Communist China,” and the phrase “designed primarily for press and magazine placement.”
  8. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “CRS is produced bi-weekly.”
  9. An unknown hand underlined the words “books,” “pamphlets,” “photobooks,” “authorized,” and the phrase “scholars and authorities from several countries on Chinese Communist affairs.”
  10. An unknown hand underlined the portion of the sentence beginning with “Agency.”
  11. An unknown hand circled the phrase “Report on China” and underlined the phrase “Bi-weekly five-minute taped radio features.”
  12. An unknown hand underlined the phrases “Posts may furnish USIS Hong Kong with the names and addresses of recipients,” “selected by the post,” and “without attribution to USIA or the USG.”
  13. An unknown hand underlined the phrase “CRP materials are produced for general world-wide use.”
  14. Rowan signed “Carl T. Rowan” above this typed signature.