Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State

Brief Progress Record of the China Cultural Relations Program, January–June 194218

Some caution has been exercised in initiating cultural relations activities in China because of one basic contrast to the Latin American program. Latin American culture is an offshoot of European culture and is therefore understood with relative ease by North Americans who have studied that area. Chinese culture, on the other hand, [Page 715]is native to Asia and in many respects bears no similarity to European-American culture.

The following report represents a modest beginning.

I Exchange of Leaders.

About the first of April, the Ambassador cabled a list of ten types of American experts desired by the Chinese Government under the cultural relations program. Their specialties included:

3 —agriculture
2 —public health
2 —industrial engineering
2 —education
1 —telephone engineer

The Department, after consulting with other Departments of this Government, sent numerous telegrams to China to clarify the type of experience desired in the experts, their prospective duties, and the materials with which they would work.

Approximately 175 candidates have been asked to submit their professional records, and nearly 100 have been interviewed. One man (a corn and potato breeder) has been selected. For the others the field of choice has been narrowed to one or two candidates.

A sum of $100,000 has been reserved in the 1942 budget for the expenses of these experts. They will fly to China during the present summer.

II Student Training.

A two-man committee was appointed by the Department to recommend the names of Chinese students who were most deserving of assistance. The $20,000 available for student work was distributed to 91 students at the rate of $75.00 per month for the three months of April, May, and June.

The need among Chinese students continued to be great. The President received a number of letters from prominent citizens urging the Government to provide further aid for the Chinese in our universities. A total of 987 Chinese students were in this country when the war began and unable to return home. With the consent of Assistant Secretary Shaw the Department allocated an additional $15,000 in its cultural relations program to student assistance. This provided monthly assistance of $75.00 to an additional sixty-six students. The Department thus aided 157 students during part of the 1942 fiscal year.

Two Chinese engineering students were sent at Government expense to Madison, Wisconsin to work on a new charcoal burning engine for China.

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The value of the potential future leaders of China who are among the students aided by this Government can be seen from the following list of studies in which these students are specializing:

38 —engineering and industry
18 —science
33 —social science
19 —agriculture
14 —medicine
13 —education
15 —arts and literature
6 —Government service
 1 —journalism

III Periodicals, Books, Microfilms, etc.

Funds appropriated for printed materials have been directed almost entirely toward microfilming, which can reproduce a 300-page book on two ounces of film. The Chinese can use this film in several ways: they can read directly from the film, they can reprint the books from the film, or they can translate its contents into Chinese and reprint it.

First, the Department needed a light microfilm reading machine to distribute. A cultural relations officer worked with the National Archives in designing a two-pound microfilm reader which can go to China by air. The Archives were given an order in June for one hundred at an approximate cost of $25.00 each, or a total of $2,500.

Two 100-foot reels of microfilm were prepared in June to accompany the first readers. These reels contained 1,600 pages of material on postwar planning and 1,900 pages of recent scientific and scholarly journals. One print of each film will be presented to each of the major university centers in West China, together with several readers.

Some magazines have also been sent in paper form. Nine subscriptions to American periodicals were placed in April on instructions from the Ambassador, and are going to China by diplomatic pouch for use in a reading room at the Chinese national capital.

IV Motion Pictures.

Considerable research was desirable before the motion picture project could be launched. In June a sixty-page report was completed summarizing information available in the United States regarding available Chinese projectors, the necessary personnel to operate them, and Chinese experience during the last ten years in the use of American educational pictures. This report is considered accurate for information up to 1940, but newer data is needed from the Embassy.

In May and June the Division forwarded to Chungking by air, eight reels of educational, 16 mm. sound pictures, sufficient to make a [Page 717]two hour program. No reports have yet been received on the use of these films because some are still en route. Twenty-one other reels have been procured for China.

The first Government picture with Chinese titles was completed in June for the cultural relations program. A Chinese artist and author in New York prepared the titles which were photographed and superimposed on the American film. This demonstration order was considered very satisfactory. The same Chinese author is now preparing three reels of Chinese voice track for American pictures. When the problems of the Chinese dialects and written language have been fully examined, the Department will be prepared to place larger orders.

The production of one new picture was started in June especially for the China cultural relations program. The War Department, at its own expense, has several camera crews photographing Chinese air cadets in Arizona and Florida. The script is being written under the direction of cultural relations officers. The film will be edited in Hollywood in August.

V Radio.

The $5,000 allocated for radio broadcasts will be used, in collaboration with the Office of War Information, for broadcasts of a cultural nature which the O. W. I.19 is unable to produce with its present funds and personnel. Only news broadcasts are now going to China from this country.

VI Conference.

The $1,000 allocated for a conference in this country on cultural relations with China was postponed until a thorough study could be completed on the cultural activities being conducted by 97 nongovernmental American organizations. Such a report was completed in June, and is now being printed for distribution. The Department will begin drafting plans for the conference in the near future.

  1. Transmitted to the Ambassador in China in the Department’s instruction No. 99, August 12.
  2. Office of War Information.