The Ambassador in China (Gauss) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 12—1:50 p.m.]
113. Reference Department’s No. 55, January 29, 9 p.m. The Embassy has given careful study to the program outlined in the Department’s telegram and deems desirable before discussing it with the Chinese Government to submit the following comments for the Department’s consideration:
Having in mind Chinese sensibilities, it is desirable to avoid any suggestion now of “cultural” missions to China. The proposed program would do little toward bolstering morale and the least said publicly in that direction at the present time the better. Our program should be fashioned as an effort to contribute toward maintaining China’s educational front during the war period, and should be calculated to ensure as beneficial results as possible under existing difficult conditions. Any extensive surveys should be left to the postwar period or at least until the approach of peace.
With regard to item 1 of the program, it is the Embassy’s view, supported by informed American and Chinese opinion, that there is no substantial benefit to be derived from the proposed technical or expert surveys and reports to be made by American specialists. Such surveys could readily be made by fully qualified Chinese specialists and experts, and also, in many lines, by American specialists connected with American mission universities which have for years been doing [Page 701]work along the lines envisaged in the program. The needs in China at present are sufficiently well known; the primary concern is how to meet those needs so far as possible in the face of the limitations on financial support, of inflation, and of the quite apparent impossibility because of transportation difficulties of receiving material assistance from abroad.
It should be borne in mind that the Burma Road is seriously threatened and in any case must be reserved almost entirely for military purposes. Communication with and within China is now largely restricted to air transport; these facilities are extremely limited and expensive; and there is no present prospect of any early improvement in the transport situation.
Most programs and projects in all lines necessitating the importation of equipment or extensive financing are being postponed but it is probable that in such fields as medical science, public health and agriculture China may have immediate need for experts or specialists not for short time surveys but for constructive collaboration over longer periods. I recommend that in lieu of the program proposed under item 1 we invite the Chinese Government to inform us of any immediate need for specialists or experts in particular lines and that we then undertake if possible to supply and finance them.
As transportation facilities improve we might offer to send qualified leaders in our educational field to lecture at the various universities, particularly on subjects where China [during?] the isolation of the war period may not have been able to keep abreast of outside programs and developments. At the same time it would be desirable to make available to Chinese professors fellowships in the United States for refresher courses and pharmacy study and research.
Item 2 of the Department program is undoubtedly desirable. As to items 3 and 4 it is suggested (a) that broadcasts could be most effectively handled in Chungking from materials supplied from the United States in collaboration with the Coordinator of Information and his staff attached to this Embassy and (b) that inasmuch as it is impracticable to send and operate sound trucks at this time it would be desirable to send 16 mm. movie projectors equipped for silent films of the kind described for loan to Chinese institutions and existing “screen centers.” A more detailed report in regard to such activities will be submitted later.
Regarding item 5 the contemplated donations would fill an urgent need but the problem of transportation is here again involved. Microfilms of current scientific and engine publications for use in the universities to enable faculty members to keep abreast of progress and developments abroad would be most helpful.[Page 702]
My observations since my arrival here lead me to submit for consideration a belated [suggestion?] which has met cordial approval amongst informed Americans and Chinese confidentially consulted; a suggestion calculated to bolster morale amongst a class of Chinese whose influence in the present and for the future is important both to China and the United States; a proposal which would contribute substantially toward maintaining China’s educational front during the war. I suggest grants in aid to the faculties of the universities and perhaps traveling colleges in free China—government and private, including American missionary—such grants to be controlled by faculty committees for the purpose of alleviating individual cases of distress and hardship amongst Chinese members of the teaching profession and their families, and, if funds permit, in special cases, amongst particularly promising students.
China in a wise effort to maintain her educational front has removed universities with their faculties and student bodies into Free China and the Government educational budget has been increased to [apparent omission] times that of prewar years but in the face of inflation with living costs and commodity prices 15 to 18 times prewar levels the educational financial position is straitened. The teaching profession is admittedly the most seriously affected of all classes in China with the result that many members, including highly educated specialists and experts unable longer to support themselves and their families, are abandoning the profession and obtaining other employment. This situation is reportedly serious. It is important to China to retain these men in their profession. Grants in aid which would permit faculty committees to provide medical and other aid during illness or [aid?] providing for tuition of children, et cetera, would be a real assistance to this important and influencial Chinese class. If this suggestion is favorably received by the Department, I shall be glad to study and develop the proposal further. I believe that two or three hundred dollars United States currency would be well spent in such grants in aid to university faculties and promising students. It has also been suggested that grants in aid might be made to a limited number of outstanding scholars to permit them to pursue research work now abandoned either because of lack of equipment or because of the necessity of seeking outside employment to eke out university [salaries?].
The Embassy is continuing to study and will report further in regard to specific phases of the Department program and meanwhile would appreciate being informed of the Department’s reaction to the crews [views?] set out herein.