125.8576/11–845: Telegram

The Consulate General at Shanghai to the Secretary of State 32

43. Foreign Service radio communications in China.

Present facilities available to us are ample, consisting of good internal communications through OWI, U. S. Navy and Marines and U. S. Army. Externally we rely principally on Navy and in North China on Marine Corps but Army facilities with India also available. Chinese Government and commercial facilities are now slow and inadequate. The possibility exists that some of our offices if relying solely on those services would be cut off by civil strife or breakdown of those services. The probability is that our radio traffic will be heavy and if commercial facilities alone are used very expensive.
Under circumstances we must have radio services which will be quick and sure at all times under all conditions. We will inherit the OWI radio network in China on January 1. At present it is technically tied up with the U. S. Army Signal Corps but in reality operates independently with stations in Shanghai, Canton, Peiping, Tientsin, Hankow, Chungking, Kunming and additional stations are contemplated in Formosa and Manchuria within the month. William L. Holland, [Page 1470] the Acting Director of the China Division of OWI, now USIS, is in Washington and is familiar with OWI China setup and inefficient service supplied by Ministry of Communications often actuated by political motives. He should be contacted.
The other possibility is to set up stations throughout China with U. S. Navy equipment and personnel. Naval Attaché Kenney states he is ready to do this if it is requested by State Dept but that action must be taken promptly before equipment now in China is shipped away. The sets would remain his accountability.
The possibility exists that Chinese communications may be improved greatly within one year as it is rumored that UNRRA33 is supplying the Ministry of Communications with considerable modern equipment valued in the millions of dollars. Pending ability of Chinese Govt to supply efficient telegraph and radio service, they should not and probably would not raise objection to American circuits proposed above. At present both British and Russians operate circuits in China with the approval of the Chinese Govt. Akins, Chief of the China Division Communication Facilities [of] OWI, informs me Russians probably have more stations than authorized.
Embassy, please report your observations direct to Dept and repeat to Shanghai.
View of my transient character further action should be handled by Shanghai and Chungking.
Please instruct promptly.
Sent to Dept, repeated to Chungking.
  1. Telegram unsigned but probably from Richard P. Butrick, Acting Chief of the Division of Foreign Service Administration, on mission in China.
  2. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.