Memorandum by Mr. Charles F. Remer of the Office of Financial and Development Policy, on Detail to the Embassy in China17
I called by appointment on Dr. Soong18 this morning and explained that I was after first-hand knowledge of Chinese Government plans for economic reconstruction and development after the war. He replied that my purpose would be best served by an attempt to get a general view of the situation in my field of interest. I could not do better than to talk with three men of special importance because of their experience and ability. The three men he named were Wong Wen-hao, Minister of Economic Affairs and Chairman of the Chinese War Production Board; C. C. Chien, Director, Electricity Department, National Resources Commission of the Ministry of Economic Affairs; and Peng Hsueh-pei, Deputy Chairman of the Central Planning Board and of the Chinese WPB.19
My attempts to get from him any detailed comment on Chinese planning or on certain related developments were unsuccessful. The Chinese WPB, he said, was doing very well. He said he did not know whether detailed work had been done in China’s needs for lend-lease aid during the rest of the war. He would not comment on the Taub plan20 nor on the Yangtze Gorge hydroelectric power project.21 He [Page 1340] protested that he was not so well informed as he had formerly been on economic matters and he assured me that the three men whom he had mentioned would deal quite frankly with these subjects and would give me any information I wished to have. When UNRRA22 was mentioned he named a fourth man, Dr. T. F. Tsiang,23 and urged that I see him.
(My own guess from Dr. Soong’s manner is that there has been more serious discussion of the Yangtze Gorge project than of Taub’s proposals. This was confirmed by Dr. W. Y. Lin of the Bank of China whom I saw in the reception room both before and after my talk with Mr. Soong.)
The next subject was the recent discussion of the place of Government and private enterprise in postwar China. Dr. Soong assured me at once that he had stood for a liberal policy at all times. Those who opposed a liberal policy, he said, were strongly influenced by the example of Russia. He said there were in the Chinese Army some who were interested in the governmental regimentation of everything and that these men had been dealt with by being told that economic policy was none of their business. In any case, he said, the Army group was neither numerous nor powerful and could be disregarded.
He went on to say that he himself was quite convinced that a settlement of this matter had now been made and that the United States could be assured that China would pursue a liberal policy toward private enterprise after the war.
I mentioned the possibility that the Chinese Government might welcome assistance in postwar economic planning to see what comment it would bring. Dr. Soong showed some interest but stated that it was perhaps not appreciated that much had already been done. He now mentioned the Central Planning Board for the first time (his early references had all been to the work of Ministry of Economic Affairs and the National Resources Commission) and added that much assistance was coming from Americans24 with the War Production Board. There were, he said, some twenty who were just arriving. He made no distinction between the war and postwar aspects of the WPB. He did not drop this subject without assuring me that he desired to think the matter over and that he might get in touch with me again.
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- Copy transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in China in his despatch No. 247, March 23; received April 7.↩
- T. V. Soong, Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs.↩
- War Production Board.↩
- The Taub Plan (sometimes referred to as the “Taub Guide”) took its name from Alex Taub, Chief Engineer, Engineering Service, Foreign Economic Administration. The plan consisted of studies aimed at building a balanced industrial economy in China with special emphasis on costs of construction and manpower requirements for each of 52 industries.↩
- For documentation on this subject, see pp. 1425 ff., passim. ↩
- United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.↩
- Director, Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.↩
- A group of American technical experts known as the “American Production Mission” and as the “Nelson Mission”, who served as advisers to the Chinese War Production Board.↩