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

No. 366

The Secretary of State encloses for the information of the Officer in Charge a copy47 of a tentative plan for the establishment of a cultural center in Shanghai.

This type of cultural activity has met with the greatest success in the other American republics, and it is believed that the services of such an organization in China might meet with equal success, particularly as a service center during the reconstruction period. Shanghai is suggested as a logical site for the first such cultural center because it is likewise a center of transportation and population, because there are many educational institutions in the area, and because it is presumed that the National Library of Peiping will be a repository for reference and research material for the Peiping area, obviating the necessity for the library of the proposed center.

The Department recognizes that no action is probable until January 1946, at least, but a presentation of this plan now may enable the Department’s officers in China to formulate suggestions and collect data which may contribute to the success of such a center when established. It may be desirable to think of possibilities for an adequate and central location in Shanghai. As another preparatory measure, the Department requests that the Embassy obtain two copies of each title given in the listing of translated books which accompanied the Embassy’s excellent despatch number 798 of October 17, 1945,47 and hold these books for inclusion in the center library.

The accompanying plan has been prepared in consultation with the officers in charge of the Department’s centers in the other American republics and with the Director of the China Institute in America, a somewhat analogous organization. The plan was prepared by an officer of the China Section of the Division of Cultural Cooperation, who, at his own expense, visited such centers in Guatemala and [Page 1446]Nicaragua to obtain information which might be valuable for application in China.

Should no objection to the plan in principle be perceived in the Embassy or other interested quarter, the Department will continue to purchase books and other materials for the center. It is the Department’s intention, in the case of materials secured from time to time, to send them to Shanghai as received, either for storage, or for use in the American reading room which, it is understood, has now been established in that city. Library of Congress cards will be obtained for each book purchased.

The Department will appreciate receiving at an early date, preferably by telegraph, the Embassy’s comments on the plan for the cultural center.

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