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

No. 524

Sir: I have the honor to invite the Department’s attention to the fact that over the past few years the Chinese appear to have gained the impression that the American Government is going to contribute very substantially indeed in the postwar economic development of China, and to point out that unless the chances appear to be good that this assistance will in fact be forthcoming, Chinese “disappointment” can hardly fail adversely to affect our future relations with China.

If I am correctly informed, there have been a number of general statements made during the past few years by officials of the American Government which have been interpreted (or perhaps misinterpreted) by many Chinese as assurances of very large capital contributions by the American Government and people for the industrialization of China and for the financial support of the Chinese Government, or projects sponsored by the Chinese Government. I hope that substantial aid to China may prove feasible, but it will readily be understood that should the Chinese be thinking in terms of billions of dollars, which seems not improbable to me at this writing, and should our aid fall short of such figures, the Chinese may allege that they had been led to expect more than that actually received.

We may also have contributed to raising Chinese expectations through the sending to China of a very considerable number of economists and advisers, who during their visits to China appear to have engaged in discussions of postwar plans with a large number of Chinese officials and businessmen. As the Embassy has reported, it has not always been easy in the best of circumstances to maintain the degree of Chinese concentration on the war effort which we desire, [Page 1352] (the experiences of the Nelson Mission may be cited in this connection), whereas the Chinese sometimes show considerable readiness to talk about postwar plans and to engage in speculation about them, at the expense of their concentration on the immediate problems of the war. While I would not go so far at this juncture as to say that such visits as those of Dr. Remer and of some of the individuals visiting China during the past year under the Cultural Relations Program, have not had very useful aspects, it nevertheless seems to be the case that some of these visits have contributed to an inflated optimism on the part of a number of Chinese both within and without the Chinese Government on the subject of postwar aid by the United States. It is my suggestion with regard to economists, industrial technicians, et cetera, who may be sent to China in the future, that this aspect of the situation be discussed with them by the Department prior to their coming to this country, and furthermore that all civilians coming to China under the auspices of our Government be instructed in their letters of designation to call at the Embassy on arrival, to keep the Embassy closely informed of their activities in advance of undertaking them, and to be guided by the views of this mission in their conversations with citizens of China.

Upon the return to Chungking of Mr. Adler,33 Treasury Attaché, I propose to discuss this whole subject with him at the first opportunity and also to familiarize myself with such discussions of postwar collaboration between the Chinese and American Governments as Dr. T. V. Soong34 may have engaged in during his recent stay in the United States.

I should appreciate it also if the Department would keep me closely informed on any discussions on the subject which may be held with the Chinese Ambassador35 and other officials of the Chinese Government in the United States in the future.

Respectfully yours,

Patrick J. Hurley
  1. Solomon Adler.
  2. President of the Chinese Executive Yuan.
  3. Wei Tao-ming.