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

No. 1247

Sir: Reference is made to the Embassy’s despatch no. 1175, May 12, and other despatches on the subject of post-war reconstruction plans for China.

There is enclosed herewith a memorandum22 of a conversation between Dr. Wong Wen-hao, Minister of Economic Affairs, and the Commercial Attaché, from which it will be observed that a program based on an annual production of 2,000,000 tons of steel is regarded by Dr. Wong as practical, from both the technical and financial points of view. A quarter of this proposed production would be needed to build 5,000 kilometers of railway lines annually and supply the bodies for freight cars to be used on those lines. A substantial amount would be used to build small ships, of 100 to 500 tons, for inland transportation, and ship yards equipped to repair ships of all sizes. Ships for coastal traffic would be bought abroad and Dr. Wong does not believe that China will attempt to compete in trans-oceanic transportation.

Agriculture’s greatest needs, according to Dr. Wong, are irrigation and fertilizer. Chemical plants will be needed to produce fertilizer and other heavy chemicals.

Production of machines will be most important in building up industry in China but so far this element of the industrialization program has not been considered in any detail. As a first step, a number of Chinese engineers now in the United States on various missions, or shortly to proceed there, are to study American factory methods and make suggestions as to their application to China’s industrialization program.

While Dr. Wong insisted that he was speaking only as an individual, it is probable that his remarks, so far as they went, represented the position of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Industrialization Reconstruction Conference.

Respectfully yours,

George Atcheson, Jr.
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