Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Paul W. Meyer of the Division of Cultural Relations
Professor Chiao Tsai, one of the Chinese professors who is in this country at the invitation of the Department, told me that in a recent conversation a Mr. Kohlberg of the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, who returned to the United States from China about two months ago, had informed him that two of the cultural relations experts at Kunming had made very derogatory remarks to him about China. Professor Tsai said that Kohlberg’s comment was that it seemed incomprehensible that cultural relations personnel sent to China to improve relations between the two countries should engage in activity which would inevitably worsen those relations. I was unable to learn from Professor Tsai who the two experts were.
I told Professor Tsai that our experts were specialists along technical lines and that some of them had never been outside the United States. I said that it is an American trait to criticize anything and everything within their own country, and that these experts had apparently forgotten that they were abroad. I did not try to excuse the experts but took occasion to say that Americans consider criticism a good thing and that I thought China would be a lot better off if there was more criticism in China. I stated, however, that criticism should come from the people of the country, as criticism from outsiders was resented by all nations. I also took occasion to point out that Chinese were free to criticize the United States, that we Americans felt free to criticize the British, and that the [Page 764] Russians felt free to criticize the British and Americans, especially in regard to our delay in opening [the] second front. He finally agreed with me that criticism was a fairly universal trait, and not necessarily something evil.
As this incident has been brought to the Department’s attention, it might be advisable to instruct the Embassy at Chungking to caution cultural relations experts in the future to be more guarded in their comments.