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

No. 2355

Sir: Referring to the Embassy’s telegram No. 514, March 23, 10 a.m.,26 in regard to the desire of Mr. Floyd Taylor, specialist in news editing sent by the Department for service with the (Party) Ministry of Information, to terminate his services in China, I have the honor to enclose a report, under date of March 20, 1944,27 submitted by Mr. Taylor in regard to his work. An earlier report by Mr. Taylor was submitted with the Embassy’s despatch No. 1940, December 21, 1943,27 In view of the excellent treatment in the enclosed report of the subject of Chinese news services, the Embassy believes that it will be of especial interest to the China Division of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs.

Summary of Mr. Taylor’s Report. Mr. Taylor continues to perform editing work on official speeches and on feature materials sent to the United States. The Chinese Government control of the press is along totalitarian lines, with the (Party) Ministry of Information controlling most of the foreign news distribution in China through the Central News Agency and stringent censorship preventing the dissemination abroad of a true picture of conditions in China. There seems to be little hope for freedom of the press in China in the future. The persons in power either do not realize that democracy cannot function when the press and other organs of public opinion are controlled or they are not genuine believers in democracy, despite their protestations. The chief objective of Chinese official publicity is the presentation of a favorable picture of China to the United States and the sending abroad of reports of the fascist tendencies of the Chinese Government is not permitted. American cultural relations specialists should not be sent for service with the Ministry of Information as they [Page 1127]must inevitably become in a sense propaganda agents of the Kuomintang and the Government. In other fields, particularly in the field of agriculture, the cultural relations program has merit. End of Summary.

Mr. Taylor continues to perform essentially the same duties as those described in his previous report in the Ministry of Information’s International Publicity Department, which he describes as doing its best to give a favorable picture of China to the United States at a time when American correspondents here are unable because of lack of news sources and the stringent Chinese censorship to present to the United States what they consider a true picture of China.…

Dr. Tong,28 through his secretary, has suggested that Mr. Taylor accompany the foreign press correspondents on the projected trip to Yenan (Embassy’s despatch No. 2267, March 6, 194429) and write articles on the trip which might offset the stories of correspondents felt by Tong to be critical of the Kuomintang and leftist in their political beliefs. Mr. Taylor informed Dr. Tong that he could not do so as an employee of the Department of State and would not go on the trip unless the American Ambassador approved. The matter was apparently dropped.

Mr. Taylor states that articles sent by the Ministry of Information to the United States are individually innocuous and not intentionally untruthful but that cumulatively they present an untrue picture of conditions in China. He is of the opinion that any American working for the Ministry is to some degree a press agent for the Kuomintang and the Chinese Government and must be a part of a fabric of deceit, Chinese officials being determined to conceal the real facts from the world and especially from the American people, who have “bulging pocketbooks”. It is his belief that the Chinese desire to obtain wartime and post-war American aid prevents the sending of any sanely written article about the fascist tendencies of the Chinese Government, which are so little known in the United States, and that the Ministry endeavors to give a picture of a poor but deserving nation which is struggling gallantly despite obstacles.

Mr. Taylor believes in the desirability of the Sino-American cultural relations program but feels strongly that an American Government employee should not work with the International Publicity Department. He suggests that the project of which he is a part be dropped quietly and gently so that the Chinese will not “lose face” and that the best means of so doing is not to extend his appointment beyond the original year. As mentioned in the reference telegram, Mr. Taylor requests that he be permitted to depart from China in time to enable [Page 1128]him to reach Washington by July 25, one year from the date of his original appointment.

Mr. Taylor encloses with his report a letter of November 10, 1943, written by Mr. C. L. Hsia, Director of the Chinese News Service at New York, and apparently sent to Dr. Tong, giving a description of the various Chinese news-distribution agencies in the United States. Mr. Hsia refers to the duplication of news distribution among Chinese agencies in the United States and expresses the opinion that the American press has during the last few years given China a position out of all proportion or expectation in comparison with that given many European countries. Hsia asserts that the Generalissimo and other officials in Chungking are not familiar with conditions in the United States and that the growth and expansion of Chinese publicity in the American press and periodicals must be gradual and not forced like a “hothouse plant”.

The Embassy concurs with Mr. Taylor that it would be advisable to drop quietly the project for sending additional specialists for service with the Ministry of Information under the Department’s cultural relations program for China. The position of specialists dealing with news releases in relation to American newspaper correspondents at Chungking has been awkward (Embassy’s despatch No. 1940, December 21, 1943) and the use of American Government paid personnel in a Party Ministry whose chief objective is the dissemination of propaganda aimed at the United States does not seem desirable. The service of the specialists already sent by the Department for work with this Ministry has served to create goodwill but there seem to be no valid reasons from a standpoint of Sino-American cultural relations to continue this project.

In this connection and with reference to the two remaining specialists serving with the Ministry of Information (Messrs. Grim and Alexander son), it is understood that the Ministry wishes to have these men stay for an additional year and that they desire an extension of their appointments. If the request for the extension of their appointments is made by the Ministry and if they approve, it is believed that it would be advisable and politic to give approval thereto. Their duties are less along pure propaganda lines than the work performed by Mr. Taylor and with the completion of their service here, the project would come to an end without any loss of face or goodwill.

It should be noted that Mr. Taylor has been one of the most successful appointees sent by the Department under its cultural relations program for China. He has been tactful in his dealings with the Chinese, enjoys the confidence and goodwill of Dr. Tong and his associates in the Ministry, as well as of the foreign press correspondents, and has been extremely cooperative with the Embassy. His picture [Page 1129]of the press situation in China is that of an experienced newspaper man, new to China, who has retained an objective viewpoint, and is perhaps the clearer because of his position behind the scene working with the chief Chinese propaganda organ.

Respectfully yours,

C. E. Gauss
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not found in Department files.
  3. Not found in Department files.
  4. Hollington K. Tong, Chinese Vice Minister of Information.
  5. Ante, p. 371.