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

No. 1416

Sir: There is enclosed a copy of a memorandum25 prepared by Dr. John K. Fairbank, a former member of the faculty of Harvard University and the Chungking representative of the Inter-Departmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications, on the subject of the organization and present condition of the Central Political Institute. The memorandum may be summarized as follows:

The Central Political Institute, which is situated about 10 miles south of Chungking, is under the direct control of the Kuomintang, and graduates enter the government service without further examination. The Institute has a present enrolment of approximately 1500 students and is divided into the three following divisions: 1) The College, which offers courses in Politics and Law, Economics, and Diplomacy; 2) The Civil Service Division, whose graduates are guaranteed government posts in the civil service by law and thus have a more secure legal status than the graduates of the College whose government posts are guaranteed only by the Kuomintang; 3) The Technical Division, which is divided into the four sections of journalism, Asiatic languages, land administration, and statistics. It is reported that the annual budget of the Institute is CNC $15 million, while the Academia Sinica and the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming (the leading educational institution in China) receive in the neighborhood of only CNC $2 million each.

Students may enter the Institute either by competitive examinations or by recommendation by the provincial commissioners of education [Page 747] and are provided without charge food, lodging, uniforms and spending money. The faculty is composed of about 50 persons and is headed by General Chiang Kai-shek in the capacity of Chancellor of the Institute. Close relations with the Generalissimo’s headquarters are indicated by the fact that the section of the Headquarters which deals with personnel and is headed by Mr. Chen Kuo-fu, one of the two leaders of the reactionary C–C clique, is located at the Institute, so that Mr. Chen is in intimate touch with the personnel passing through the Institute.

Dr. Fairbank is of the opinion that the background of the group of faculty members whom he met on a recent visit to the Institute was decidedly continental European, and he states that they acknowledged that “continental administrative systems seemed to hold more for a country like China than the Anglo-Saxon systems”. The Vice-Chancellor of the Institute, Dr. Ch’eng T’ien-fang, nevertheless expressed much interest in post-war educational relations with the United States, and the Institute appeared to be desirous of sending men to the United States for training in administrative interneeships. Although the Institute does not appear to Dr. Fairbank to be staffed by men of great ability, he feels that it is in a key position and is not necessarily hostile to the United States.

Dr. Fairbank feels that a preference for continental rather than Anglo-Saxon administrative systems is understandable in those who may be interested in building up a widespread bureaucracy under centralized control. The Institute may, therefore, be viewed as one more aspect of the efforts of the Kuomintang leaders to extend their control over all phases of activity in China.26

Respectfully yours,

George Atcheson, Jr.
  1. Not printed.
  2. In a memorandum dated September 24 to the Division of Cultural Relations the Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Vincent) stated: “Mr. Fairbank’s memorandum transmitted by Chungking’s despatch no. 1416 of August 2, 1943 is especially interesting. The Central Political Institute, of which he writes, and the Central Training Corps in Chungking where officials of the Government undergo a rigorous training in Kuomintang precepts, form the basis of a system of party control in the future which does not augur well for the development of democratic methods.” Mr. Vincent took the occasion to make reference to “the matter of the assignment of an attaché to Chungking to handle cultural or educational relations” and to urge that “Mr. Fairbank would be an excellent choice.”