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

No. 323

The Secretary of State acknowledges the receipt of the Embassy’s despatch no. 989, of March 9, 1943, transmitting a memorandum15 on the situation in China from the outbreak of the Pacific War. On page 10 of the memorandum is a recommendation that the Department give attention to a program of selecting Chinese young men with engineering and mechanical experience and of placing them in industrial establishments in the United States for training.

The Embassy is, of course, aware that large numbers of Chinese students are already in the United States, of whom many are now gaining practical experience in all kinds of capacities from apprentice mechanics to instructors in university faculties. There is a constant shifting of young people from academic study to remunerative work and to some extent in the reverse direction. There are also many dividing their time between study and earning their living, some being primarily students and others primarily workers. As a result the preparation of statistics is extremely difficult.

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In October, 1942, the China Institute in America published statistics of students receiving aid from the Department of State and from agencies represented by the Institute, as follows:

Agency Students Aided
Departments of State 158
Committee on Wartime Planning 114
Tsing Hua University:
Full scholarships 17
Partial scholarships 16
China Foundation 12
British Boxer Indemnity Board  15
Total 332

Since these figures were published the number of students receiving grants from the Department of State has increased to 207.

As of November 30, 1942, the Institute had listed 1,037 Chinese students in the United States. The actual number having some claim to that classification is probably nearer 2,000. A directory of “Chinese University Graduates and Students in America, 1943” published by the Institute this spring contains 1,214 names. Of these 267 were reported as in training or employed. Probably the number of students employed is actually much larger. Recently there have been more openings for employment of engineering students than there were applicants for such posts.

It would appear, therefore, that quantitatively the American effort in preparing young Chinese to play a part in modern life is still very important. It is of special interest that there have been as many as fifteen British Indemnity students transferred to this country, because during the war they could not advantageously continue their studies in Britain.

In the Embassy’s memorandum in reference there is mention of the British program for sending 81 Chinese technicians to Great Britain for training in industrial establishments and in the Embassy’s despatch no. 1027 of March 24, 1943,16 reference is made to a group of 81 “Chinese students, professors, and apprentices” selected for training in England. However, the Chinese Information Committee Bulletin enclosed with the latter despatch states the number as 31 instead of 81. It would be of interest to know which of these figures is correct.

The Bulletin referred to goes on to describe how the expense of one fellowship and nine scholarships was divided between the British Government and the Chinese Ministry of Education.

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In the case of grants made by the Department to Chinese students and professors, no attempt has been made to utilize credits already granted to China, nor to invite financial cooperation by the Chinese Government.

It seems possible that there would be some advantage in some such plan of joint contributions in the scholarship program as the British have inaugurated. However, it does not appear desirable to begin any such formal cooperation between the two Governments with respect to the students now in this country. The immediate need is for relief of students left stranded and the utilization of their time to the best advantage for their professional development. The financial burden is actually being divided between the Department of State and the Committee on Wartime Planning, a Chinese Government agency, both of which utilize to a greater or less extent the information and facilities of the China Institute in America and thus avoid serious overlapping.

It has been suggested that if and when the Department shall have funds available for the bringing of Chinese technical personnel to this country for further training the following method might be adopted:

Determine a few fields in which cooperation is proposed, such as agriculture, engineering or public health.
Send a representative of the Division to acquaint himself with the principal Chinese governmental institutions in the field or fields selected, with the leaders in those fields, and with the younger personnel.
Consult with the head of a selected institution as to whether there is on his staff some young man of exceptional promise who would profit by a period of study in the United States. Actually this might best be done after the representative of the Department had formed some opinion of his own as to the most promising candidate and could tactfully but unofficially influence the selection.
Arrange with the Chinese Government department or service concerned to do certain things such as: (a) undertaking the support of the family of the individual sent, during his absence from the country; (b) payment of travelling expenses within China (between his home and the Asiatic port of embarkation); (c) agreement with the fellowship holder as to the position which he would hold on his return to China.
Finally a formal recommendation from the Chinese Government of one or more of the individuals already informally agreed upon.

It has been represented that there would be certain advantages in such a system. Only those would be brought to the United States who had proved their ability in actual work in China; the fact that the Chinese Government was sharing in the expense, and would employ the scholarship holder on his return, would help to give assurance that he was considered a really useful worker; there would be the element of cooperation which the Embassy noted in the British plan.

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This system has given good results when tried by private organizations. The Department would be interested to learn whether the Embassy believes some such plan would be feasible and wise for the Department to follow. If the Embassy is favorably disposed, consideration may be given to the advisability of including provision for fellowships of this type in some future budget.

At the same time it would be of interest to consider whether it would be wise to ask the Chinese Government to reciprocate by making available some of its experts for service in American institutions. As the Embassy will have noted from the Department’s telegram of May 3, 1943,17 the Harvard-Yenching Institute is inviting a Chinese philologist, Mr. S. S. Ting of Academia Sinica, to come to this country to work on a project of that Institute. Such invitations might come from several institutions if the Chinese Government were disposed to cooperate.

In the meantime it would seem that the steps already taken by the Department and by the agencies supported by the American indemnity funds will compare very favorably with what the British Government is proposing to do.

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