693.1117 American Chinese Trade Commission/17

Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton)

On Saturday, February 16, Mr. Hornbeck telephoned Mr. Chevalier, Secretary of the American Asiatic Association, New York, and was informed by Mr. Chevalier, in response to inquiry, that the American Economic Mission to China would include among its personnel a representative of the Export-Import Bank. When Mr. Chevalier asked Mr. Hornbeck what Mr. Hornbeck thought of the inclusion of such a representative, Mr. Hornbeck said that he was not at the moment expressing any opinion but was merely endeavoring to ascertain the facts. Mr. Hornbeck suggested that in any publicity given in regard to the Economic Mission to China, there be featured the fact that the Mission is one sponsored and organized by private American business and commercial interests.

An American economic mission to China (which will visit also other countries and areas in the Far East) will naturally arouse speculation and conjecture. In Japan, American economic activity in China has long been viewed and is especially today viewed as having a political character. Whether the Japanese view accords with the facts is not so important as is the desirability of this Government avoiding action which would unnecessarily reenforce the Japanese in their point of view. From the point of view of American relations with the countries of the Far East it is desirable that people’s attention be turned to some extent at least from political factors toward purely economic and commercial factors.

In the light of the above, it is believed that the inclusion in the personnel of the American Economic Mission to China of any officers of the American Government would be unfortunate. Such inclusion would make it practically impossible for the American Government or its representatives in the Far East to convince anyone that the Mission is not sponsored by the Government and that the Mission does not have a political as well as an economic character. Any ill-advised statements made by members of the Mission or any conclusion reached by the Mission with which the American Government might not be in accord would be more embarrassing to the American Government than would be the case if the Mission did not have among its personnel an officer or officers of the American Government.

It is therefore suggested that steps be taken toward causing the Export-Import Bank to withdraw its representative from the personnel of the Economic Mission. In case the Export-Import Bank believes it advisable to send a representative to China, it is believed that [Page 539]such representative should proceed independently of and be not connected with the American Economic Mission.