711.00111 Lic. Wah Chang Trading Corp./93/133

Memorandum of Conversations, by the Chief of the Office of Arms and Munitions Control (Green)

Mr. Tswen-ling Tsui, Second Secretary of the Chinese Embassy, called at my office this morning. He showed me a letter which Mr. K. C. Li, President of the Wah Chang Trading Corporation, had addressed to the Chinese Ambassador, in regard to the difficulties which his company was encountering in connection with the purchase of explosives from du Pont. He complained bitterly that Wah Chang had recently purchased, on behalf of the Chinese Government, 3000 bombs in the expectation that it would later purchase 750 tons of TNT to fill those bombs, but that now du Pont refused to sell the necessary [Page 542] TNT and no TNT was available elsewhere. The bombs he said were therefore useless. He added that this country had already inflicted great injury upon China in refusing to permit arms to be exported in American owned ships, and he seemed to interpret this refusal of du Pont to enter into further contracts with Wah Chang as another blow aimed by this country at China. It appeared from his letter that Mr. Li wished to give the Ambassador the impression that the Department had requested du Pont to fill this order, but that du Pont was nevertheless refusing to do so. He begged the Ambassador to attempt to prevail upon the Department to take up the matter with du Pont.

I told Mr. Tsui that the Department had had no communication with du Pont in regard to the difficulties which his Government was encountering in making purchases from that company, other than the telephone conversation which I had had in his presence on October 1 with Major Casey and that he had heard what I had said to the Major.

Mr. Tsui asked me to write to du Pont requesting at least that it agree to sell 750 tons of TNT to Wah Chang.

I told Mr. Tsui that I believed that it would be contrary to the practice of the Department to request an American company to enter into any particular transaction. I reiterated what I had told him on October 1 that the refusal of du Pont to sell any further arms or ammunition of a specifically military character was general in its application.

Major K. K. V. Casey of du Pont called at my office this afternoon. He showed me a letter which he had received from Mr. Li and permitted me to make the copy which is attached hereto.34 He said that upon receipt of this letter he had telephoned to several officers of du Pont asking whether they had received any telephone message from any officer of the Department such as that quoted in Mr. Li letter. Unable to obtain any information, he called Mr. Li by telephone and asked him who had telephoned the message and to whom it had been telephoned. Mr. Li replied that I had telephoned the message to the Major himself. The Major said that he had thereupon categorically denied that I had ever said anything of the kind, adding that if I had, such a message would have been utterly without result as the company would require a written request from the Department before it would make any exception to its general policy of refusing to sell for export any arms or ammunition of a specifically military character.

Major Casey said that he personally was opposed to the policy which had been adopted by du Pont, and that his attitude was shared by other officers of the company, including Lammot du Pont himself. [Page 543] He spoke of the company’s policy as “a private neutrality policy” and he made it clear that it was motivated by a desire to avoid being “crucified by publicity”.

J[oseph] C. G[reen]
  1. Not printed.