811.42793/1286: Airgram

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

A–19. According to recent Chinese press reports which have been confirmed by Chinese officials a plan has been submitted to the Executive Yuan by the Ministry of Education for sending one thousand Chinese students each year for the next five years to the United States and Great Britain. Informed sources state that 700 students will be [Page 745] sent to the United States and 300 to Great Britain each year under this plan. Of this number 500 are to be chosen by examination and 500 are to be appointed by institutions, with the approval of the Ministry of Education. Those appointed are generally to be older persons up to the age of 40 and will include professors, who must have engaged in study within the previous 15 years, and government officials. Students to be eligible for examination must have graduated from college within two years previously or must be among the first three in recent graduating classes. Government officials will be drawn from the Ministries of Economic Affairs, Communications and Agriculture and Forestry and from the National Health Administration. Women will be eligible for examination and appointment. All expenses will be paid by the Chinese Government and students are to be sent for two-year periods, subject to extension.

The project has arisen from the lack of trained technical personnel in China and the anticipated needs for the post-war reconstruction program. An informed Chinese states that at the beginning of the Sino-Japanese war, the Chinese Government adopted a policy of discouraging the sending of students and technicians abroad on the ground that their services were needed in China. It subsequently developed that through the deterioration of Chinese university standards during wartime the caliber of Chinese graduates was lowered and trained technical personnel became inadequate.

Dr. Wang Shih-chieh, Secretary General of the People’s Political Council and of the State Planning Board, is reliably reported as having urged that 30 per cent of the students to be sent abroad under the plan should be in the social sciences but a member of the Executive Yuan states that approximately 80 per cent of the students will be in technical fields.

A qualified foreign observer views the insistence upon such a large number of technical students as a bid by the CC clique for a share in the Chinese post-war industrialization and technological development. This observer feels that the National Resources Commission and the Ordnance Department include most of the technical skill needed for Chinese industrialization; that the weakness of the CC leaders has lain partly in their lack of technicians capable of building a new China; and that this program represents their effort to achieve a dominant position in post-war development. An informed Chinese source takes a similar view but feels that the Chung Hsueh Hsi group (so-called Political Science group) has too strong a hold in the technical field through Dr. Wong Wen-hao, the National Resources Commission and industrial plants under his control to lose its leading place in the economic development of China. While Tseng Yang-fu, Minister of Communications, is a member of the CC group, [Page 746] the technicians of his Ministry are said by this Chinese to be followers of Dr. Wong.

The Embassy feels that this plan which is expected to receive the approval of the Executive Yuan offers an opportunity to the Division of Cultural Relations to accomplish an effective extension of its cultural relations program for China. Plans could be made to bring to the appointees an appreciation of the American way of life and a personal interest could be taken in them which would make their stay in the United States more than a pure study of technical subjects. Only a small number of students may be expected to be sent this year, full effectuation of the program to be achieved in 1944.