The Ambassador in China (Gauss), Temporarily in the United States, to the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)

Dear Dr. Hornbeck: Mr. Vincent22 brought me from Chungking the attached letter (with enclosures)23 from Tseng Yang-fu, Minister of Communications, who is developing a plan for the technical training in the United States of a number of Chinese engineers and foremen for China’s post-war reconstruction program.

Tseng Yang-fu, who is very much of a live-wire and at the same time rather an astute politician, spoke to me of this matter some time before I left Chungking. I expressed keen interest in the project and suggested that he work out his proposals and then discuss them with me and with Dr. Victor Hoo, Administrative Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was present as a guest at my tiffin party for Tseng.

At this conversation, I managed to make a casual inquiry as to how Tseng’s plan was to be financed. He stated then that he proposed that it be financed by the Chinese Government; but examination of the proposals made in the attached letter shows that he now proposes that the scheme be financed by American industry; that is, the engineers and foremen are to bear the cost from their “wage compensation”. I do not believe he has reference to their wage compensation in China; it would not be adequate for any such purpose.

I believe that Tseng’s proposals should have careful study with a view, if possible, to some arrangement whereby we can offer this technical training in the United States for Chinese engineers and leading hands. If we do not take them in the United States, the Chinese will look elsewhere.

The problem involves not only the cooperation of American industry, but the question of finance; and also the question of immigration regulations and the attitude of American labor unions. It is perhaps unfortunate that this question comes up just at a time when Chinese immigration restrictions24 are to the fore in the United States, but we should have to face this problem sooner or later.

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As I do not expect to be in Washington for another month, it seems desirable that I send Tseng’s letter on to the Department so that the matter may be studied in advance of my arrival there, and so that I may be able to take back some word to Tseng when (and if) I return to Chungking.

I should add this: Tseng’s letter does not indicate that his plan has approval of the National Government; and he puts his proposals forward with a request for “comment and suggestion”. This is typical of Tseng; he is not inclined to proceed “through channels”, and he seeks to put matters through by himself. I had hoped that when he had formulated his ideas he would discuss them with the Foreign Office (and the Executive Yuan) and the proposals made to us would have National Government blessing. I commented to Tseng that I had noticed from our passport reports that Dr. Wong Wen-hao, the Minister of Economics, was from time to time sending some of his men, as government officials, to the United States, for special training in American plants. It was my intention to look into this matter “diplomatically” and see just what Dr. Wong had worked out. I am inclined to believe that his men (I recall that they came principally from the National Resources Commission, which is part of the Ministry of Economics) have been “placed” in the United States through T. V. Soong and China Defense Supplies.

I feel that we should give all possible support to Tseng’s project, but I doubt whether American industry is going to be willing to finance it, and I would prefer to avoid the difficulty regarding immigration regulations and our American labor unions by having these people come under Government status, without “compensation” from industry. It would of course be an expensive measure if we had to finance it (say $1,000,000 a year if each person were allowed $2000).

However, the problem should be studied, and I am therefore sending it on to you in advance of my return to Washington.

Very sincerely yours,

C. E. Gauss
  1. John Carter Vincent, former Counselor of Embassy in China; appointed Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, August 21, 1943.
  2. None printed.
  3. For correspondence regarding repeal of Chinese Exclusion Laws, see pp. 769 ff.