Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Alger Hiss, Assistant to the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)

Participants: Mr. Dean Acheson1
Mr. Lauchlin Currie2
Mr. A. Manuel Fox3
Mr. Hamilton4
Mr. Finletter5
Mr. Ballantine6
Mr. Grummon7
Mr. Alger Hiss

Mr. Acheson stated that Mr. Welles8 had asked that the question of the possibility of sending an Economic Mission to China, a subject which has been under consideration at various times in the past, should be reconsidered at this time.

In the ensuing discussion on this subject there was general agreement that there is no reason for this Government to consider at this time sending a formal Economic Mission to China.

Mr. Finletter said that from point of view of obtaining strategic materials from China there was no need in his judgment, as the situation now stands, to send any expert to China. It was agreed, however, that it would be useful for the RFC9 to send a representative to India who would devote special attention to problems relating to transportation.

Mr. Fox expressed the view that we should be very careful of Chinese susceptibilities and that it was definitely desirable that this Government act only in case the Chinese Government should take some initiative or otherwise show that it desired to receive experts. Mr. Currie expressed concurrence in the viewpoint advanced by Mr. Fox.

Mr. Hamilton said that it was the view of the Far Eastern Division that were we at this time to propose to the Chinese Government that we send an Economic Mission, the Chinese might regard it as an attempt on our part to supervise expenditure of the proceeds of the recent $500,000,000 loan.10 Both Mr. Fox and Mr. Currie agreed with this view and felt in general that China’s need at the present time is for individual technical specialists rather than for any general Economic Mission. Mr. Fox in particular said that he felt that foreign [Page 706]advisory missions are rather in disrepute in China at the present time.

There was general agreement that the Department should continue with the approaches which it has already made through Ambassador Gauss to obtain from the Chinese Government indication of particular specialists which China needs at present. In this connection reference was made to the Department’s telegram on this subject of February 24 to Chungking, No. 130, and of Mr. Gauss’ reply of March 15, No. 226. In this latter telegram Mr. Gauss said that from preliminary discussions which he had had with Chinese officials he gathered that health, agriculture and engineering are the three principal fields in which China would welcome the assistance of individual specialists sent out by the United States, but that he hoped shortly after the next meeting of the Executive Yuan (which was scheduled for March 17 or perhaps March 24) to receive detailed information as to the wishes of the Chinese Government in this matter.

It was generally agreed that we should await a further communication on this subject from Mr. Gauss. Mr. Grummon explained that the Division of Cultural Relations has already established good contacts with the various medical groups in this country who are interested in assisting China. He said that Mr. Roger Greene11 is undertaking a survey of the activities in China of these groups and is attempting to ascertain what fields of medicine are at present inadequately covered by these activities. Mr. Grummon also referred to conferences which the Division of Cultural Relations has had with the Department of Agriculture and reported that the Department of Agriculture is prepared to supply several experts if the Chinese Government desires their services. In this connection Mr. Hamilton remarked that as a result of a request from the Chinese Government the Department of Agriculture has already agreed to make available to China the services of Dr. Lowdermilk as soon as Dr. Lowdermilk has recovered from a current illness. Dr. Lowdermilk is a specialist in the field of soil conservation.

  1. Assistant Secretary of State.
  2. Administrative Assistant to President Roosevelt.
  3. American Member of the Chinese Stabilization Board.
  4. Maxwell M. Hamilton, Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs.
  5. Thomas K. Finletter, Acting Chief of the Division of Defense Materials.
  6. Joseph W. Ballantine, Division of Far Eastern Affairs.
  7. Stuart E. Grummon, Division of Cultural Relations.
  8. Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State.
  9. Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
  10. For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 419 ff.
  11. Consultant, Division of Cultural Relations.