811.91293/8–945: Telegram

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

1310. The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, K. C. Wu, handed me a memorandum today stating the reasons why the Government of China has refused to permit the return of correspondents Berrigan and Isaacs to China. (My telegram No. 1288, August 5, 5 p.m. and previous correspondence.) The memorandum follows:

“The Chinese Government has recently had occasion to deny the applications for permission to return to China of two American war correspondents who were formerly in the China Theater. In order that there may be no misapprehension as to China’s attitude in this matter, the Chinese Government wishes to make it clear that no issue of freedom of the press has been in any way involved in its decision. The Chinese Government, firmly believing that a free press is one of the most potent forces for the attainment of democracy, has consistently dedicated itself to the support of the principles of world-wide freedom of the press.

The war has necessarily restricted temporarily freedom of the press in every country of the world—China is no exception. In wartime, censorship invoked in the interest of national security and no belligerent nation has escaped the necessity of censorship.

Furthermore, freedom of the press cannot be construed as covering the license to subvert and it is understood that the Government of the United States recognizes this and its War and Navy Departments have refused to accredit war correspondents whose records indicate a determination to overthrow or weaken the Government in wartime, or who have made reports prejudicial to the war effort of the United States. In barring these two American correspondents, the Government of the Republic of China is merely exercising the same prerogative.

It is also an acknowledged international practice that accreditization of the Government of one nation does not automatically admit correspondents to another country. The Government of China, like her Allies, reserves the sovereign right to pass upon the credentials of any foreign accredited correspondent. It must do so in time of war for its own protection.

Since the beginning of the war, however, the Chinese Government has welcomed over 600 bona fide war correspondents to China, and since January 9, 1945 has received 62 foreign war correspondents who have come to China, visited the capital and travelled extensively in the country for the purpose of reporting the progress of the war to all the peoples of the world. The Chinese Government has welcomed these correspondents to China and has gladly placed all necessary facilities at their disposal. At the present time there are no less than 24 foreign war correspondents in the China Theater.

The Chinese Government has not declined to readmit the two correspondents in question on the ground that their writing has been critical [Page 1480] of or unfriendly toward the Government of China, but on the ground that while they were in China their actions were not confined to representation of their respective publications and, at a time when China was fighting for her very existence, they were pursuing a course which endangered the military collaboration between China and the United States and openly seeking to undermine the authority of the Government of China. In view of their past activities, therefore, the Chinese Government is of the opinion that were these two correspondents permitted to return, they might make further attempts against the Government of China and that these attempts might influence adversely the joint prosecution of the war against Japan by China, the United States and their Allies.

In the meantime, the Chinese Government declares its readiness and willingness to receive from the two publications in question other accredited correspondents in substitution for the two correspondents whose applications it has been forced to decline.”

Should the Department wish to make the memorandum available to either Newsweek or the New York Post the Chinese Government has no objection provided it is understood and agreed that:

The memorandum is to be held as confidential, not for publication.
If the publications accept the invitation of the Chinese Government to appoint other correspondents, [n]either that Government nor the papers concerned will make any public statement concerning the case;
Should either publication wish to engage in publicity the Chinese Government will be given through the Department of State a minimum of 48 hours of advance notice.

For the information of the Department only: If the papers decide to act on the plan outlined in point 3 above Chinese Government plans to make public its statement here in Chungking and to make it available to all foreign correspondents. With reference to the advance notice desired, it should be borne in mind that telegrams from the Department frequently require 2 days to reach Chungking.