The Chargé in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State

No. 163

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s telegram from Chungking No. 30, of January 16, 1 p.m., transmitting the translation of a note dated January 15, 1939, from the Chinese Foreign Office [Page 826]announcing the suspension as from that date of payments on foreign obligations secured on the Customs revenue. Reference is made, also, to despatch No. 1535, of January 25, 1939, from the Consul General at Shanghai66 in regard to the difficulty caused by this suspension to the China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture, both in connection with commitments under the 1925 remission of the Boxer Indemnity67 and in connection with the Tsing Hua University and the graduate students in America, which are supported out of the proceeds of the 1908 remission of the Indemnity.68

In the absence of instructions from the Department directing that any steps be taken to relieve the difficulties of these educational enterprises and in the absence of any request from the Chinese authorities directly responsible for their conduct, I have refrained even from making any inquiries into the subject (in this connection see despatch No. 1929, of February 17, 1939, from the Embassy at Peiping66), except on one occasion.

On March 15, at an afternoon reception given by the French Ambassador, Mr. Ku Yu-hsiu, Political Vice Minister of Education, informed me that Dr. Y. C. Mei, President of the Tsing Hua University, had for some days been in Chungking asking that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education provide financial support for the University in lieu of the Indemnity payments, now in suspense. Mr. Ku said that Dr. H. H. Kung, Minister of Finance, had consented in principle to the extending of some degree of support, but he felt that the Minister of Finance would be less likely to postpone action in the matter if the American Embassy were to show its interest in some way. Having in mind the solicitude felt by the Department in past years for the welfare of the educational work specified in the exchange of notes effecting the Indemnity remission of 1908 I consented to make an inquiry of Dr. Kung, provided a suitable opportunity should be present.

On March 17 Dr. Kung invited a small number of American citizens, including Mrs. Peck and me, to tea and in the course of a general conversation I inquired of the Minister how Tsing Hua University was progressing. He replied that the University was progressing satisfactorily. I observed that I supposed the institution would be taken care of and Dr. Kung replied that it would.

Respectfully yours,

Willys R. Peck