The Ambassador in China ( Gauss ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1819

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s airgrams no. A–19, July 22, 12 noon, and no. A–69, October 7, noon, and to the Department’s airgram no. A–87, October 2, 6 p.m. with regard to the proposed plan of the Chinese Government to send technical students to the United States for study.

There are now enclosed (1) a memorandum of conversation dated November 8, 1943, between the Counsellor of the Executive Yuan and an officer of the Embassy;36 (2) and (3) translations36 from news items which appeared in the Ta Kung Pao on October 29 and November 4, 1943; and (4) a translation36 of a news item which appeared in the Sao Tang Pao on November 10, 1943—all dealing with the subject of sending Chinese students abroad for study.

Summary of Enclosures. Dr. P. H. Chang, Counsellor of the Executive Yuan, stated that he had heard indirectly of a plan proposed by the Central Planning Board for sending students to the United States at Chinese Government expense but that the Executive Yuan had no official information concerning it. He mentioned also that the Ministries of Education and Economic Affairs were planning to allow students to proceed to the United States at their own expense after being examined by the Ministry of Education. Dr. Chang expressed appreciation of the interest shown by the American Government and said that he would call the suggestions with regard to financing such a plan and the establishment of a supervisory agency to the attention of interested officials.

The Chinese press on October 29 carried a list of regulations governing students proceeding abroad for education at their own evpense, the important points of which are as follows: (1) no students will in the future be permitted to go abroad for study at their own expense without prior sanction by the Ministry of Education; (2) a total of 600 students will be given permission to study abroad and a provisional [Page 757] ration has been established of 60% for study in sciences and 40% in the arts; (3) examinations conducted by the Ministry will consist of a written examination in the Three People’s Principles, national history, geography, Chinese language, foreign languages and the applicant’s special subject and an oral examination in the candidate’s deportment and thinking; (4) all students who pass the examinations shall undergo a period of intensive indoctrination at the Central Training Corps; (5) reports will be submitted periodically by the Superintendent of Students in the United States on their work, their thinking and their deeds, which if found to be irregular may bring about a student’s summary recall to China; and (6) on the student’s return to China the Ministry of Education may assign him to an appropriate position.

Press reports on November 5 stated that the first group of students to be sent abroad at government expense will number 500 and that examinations will be held in February 1944. However, a Central News Agency report on November 10 stated that, as the project for sending students abroad at government expense had not yet received approval, students would proceed abroad this year only at their own expense. End of Summary.

Dr. Chang stated in a more recent conversation with an officer of the Embassy that deliberations were being held on the question of sending students to the United States at government expense and that the Embassy would shortly be officially informed as to the results of these deliberations. He also stated that it would not be a good policy to send too many students at first and that probably not more than 1,000 students would be in the United States at any one time, thus considerably reducing the expected expenditures as estimated by the Department.

While the sending of students abroad for further study will undoubtedly bring substantial benefit to China in its post-war reconstruction period, the Embassy is of the opinion that, under such a rigorous system of selection and control, students of known liberal political beliefs or those suspected of a questioning or critical attitude toward the Kuomintang will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the approval of the Ministry of Education for study abroad. The provision in the enclosed regulations for supervision of students in the United States and their recall if found to be guilty of statements “contrary to the San Min Chu I”37 or of “irregular” deeds shows to what extent the Kuomintang is prepared to carry its control over Chinese education. Almost equally discouraging is the willingness of the Kuomintang leaders to make public announcement of such fascist-like practices which are thus to be effective beyond the borders of China.

It is noted that the provisional ratio of self-supporting students proceeding abroad includes 40% in the arts (literature, law, commerce and education), but it is believed that as long as the Ministry of [Page 758] Education has complete control in the selection of all such students the number of those proceeding abroad to study other than scientific subjects will be negligible.

With reference to the suggestion advanced by the Embassy (Embassy’s A–69, October 7, noon) that scholarships be offered by American universities through competitive examinations to be held in China under capable impartial auspices, it is believed such a procedure would still be feasible and might serve to prevent the sending of only Kuomintang hand-picked personnel for study in the United States.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
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  4. The “Three People’s Principles” of Sun Yat-sen.