The Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn) to the Director of the Office of Strategic Services (Donovan)
My Dear General Donovan: The proposal set forth in your letter of April 14, 1944 to the Secretary of State in regard to the possibility of transporting from India to China via Tibet certain supplies, particularly [Page 970]supplies designed for use in connection with O.S.S. operations in China, has received careful consideration by concerned officers in the Department. It is noted that, according to the estimate of British authorities in India, it is anticipated that, with proper organization, after a year’s time there could be handled in that manner an annual transportation of 4,000 tons. It is pertinent to observe, it is felt, that the increased transportation by that route of O.S.S. supplies would probably result in at least partial displacement of commodity goods now being shipped by that route to China in connection with normal trade.
It is believed, however, that the political factor is the factor of primary significance in the present case. As pointed out in Major Tolstoy’s supplementary memorandum of April 7, 1944,17 “If the Chinese Government is not made to realize the immediate advantage of the matter to the Allies’ war progress, it will use the project merely as an excuse to exercise stronger pressure on its existing demand to the Tibetan Government for a right-of-way for a road from China to India, via Jyekundo, purely for re-establishing complete control over Tibet. Such action by the Central Government of China would most likely result in warfare between the two countries.” It is believed that the two factors, that there could be obtained but minor economic benefits and that there exist potentially major political difficulties, when combined, suffice to render it inadvisable to proceed at this time with the suggested project. The Department of State would therefore not be prepared to undertake to obtain the coordination and participation of the Chinese and British authorities as suggested.
In respect to the matter of the proposed purchase by the United States Government of the wool supplies which the Tibetans now have on hand, it is to be observed that the matter would seem to be one which the British Government would presumably have a primary interest in undertaking. It is understood, moreover, that the Foreign Economic Administration is also informed of this situation, and presumably would be prepared to do whatever might appear to be economically sound and politically feasible, having in view the position of the British with respect to the matter. The Department feels, in the light of the above, that the economic aspect of the matter will in due course receive such attention as it merits.
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