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

Participants: Mr. J. B. Brigden, Financial Counselor of the Australian Legation;
Mr. Hornbeck;
Mr. Hiss.

Mr. Brigden called on Mr. Hornbeck and said that his Legation had received a somewhat garbled or ambiguous message from London which indicated that the United States was discussing with the Chinese [Page 414] the problem of exchange rates and of relief for American officials in China.20 Mr. Brigden said that as we were all aware the present exchange situation worked severe hardship on foreign official representatives in China.

Mr. Brigden was told that Mr. Playfair of the British Treasury had been in some weeks ago as a result of a telegram which had been received from the British Military Attaché in Chungking and that it seemed likely that the Australian Legation’s information stemmed from this same source. Mr. Brigden was further told that we had for some time been giving consideration to the problem of our official representatives in China in connection with exchange matters but that, unless General Stilwell21 has discussed the matter informally with the Chinese, we do not believe there has been any direct discussion between American and Chinese officials on this matter. We understand that the Chinese desire that there be no change in the exchange rate and that they further are opposed to the granting of special exchange rates. It was suggested to Mr. Brigden that he might wish to talk to the British Embassy or to Mr. Playfair about the matter or that he might wish to take up with the War Department the question of what arrangements General Stilwell had made on an ad hoc basis. Mr. Brigden said he was interested only in the Australian Legation’s staff in Chungking, not in problems of the British or American military forces in China. Mr. Brigden was told that if things developed in such a way that there appeared to be likelihood that we could work out some satisfactory arrangement with the Chinese authorities we should be glad to notify the Australian Legation. Mr. Brigden expressed his appreciation for this offer.

  1. For further correspondence on the problem of exchange rates in relation to reverse Lend-Lease negotiations, see pp. 515 ff.
  2. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, Commanding General, United States Army Forces in China, Burma, and India.