123 Atcheson, George, Jr.: Telegram

The Acting Political Adviser in Japan (Atcheson) to the Secretary of State

191. Mr. Hurley’s continuous assaults together with the falsity and apparent vindictiveness of his statements seen at this distance to place us in a position where a statement of some kind in refutation appears increasingly unavoidable. I am most reluctant to make a statement which might prolong the matter or which might raise for public discussion any question of past or present policy. But continuous replies of “no comment” to press inquiries lend themselves to the implication that by avoiding comment we give credence to Mr. Hurley’s charges. My reputation in the service generally after 25 years is of importance to me. My reputation in China where I spent some 17 years is of importance to me. My reputation in my present position is of importance to me. Mr. Service feels the same way.

While we have continued today to reply “no comment” to press inquiries, I have been considering whether I should not, in the light of all the circumstances, make a statement along lines as follows:

“Mr. Hurley’s (radio SCAP (USPolAd) to WarCoS SecState December 4513) statement that any officer of the Foreign Service in China sought the downfall of the Chinese Government is completely untrue. The China officers with whom I was associated in the Department from 1939 to 1942 and subsequently in the Embassy in Chungking worked unremittingly as did I to obtain greater aid for the Generalissimo and the Central Government.

This is on the record. My first substantive report to the Department after arrival in Chungking in May 1943 urged increased American aid to the Chinese National Government. No member of the staff was in opposition to this or to many subsequent similar recommendations, and I know of no officer who did not favor support of the Central Government.

Early this year, while I was awaiting promised replacement, after the normal tour of duty, Mr. Hurley returned to the United States and, under the Department’s instructions, I assumed charge of the Embassy and remained until after the middle of April, when my successor arrived. The Ambassador’s absence was not designed to stop the work of the Embassy. During that period I sent the Department a [Page 729] telegram14 in the light of the current situation, submitting for consideration some thoughts which we felt might assist in furthering Chinese unity in the war against Japan. The telegram specifically requested that its contents be discussed with Ambassador Hurley in Washington. I do not know Mr. Hurley’s purpose in implying that this was done behind his back.

Mr. Hurley’s statements, in regard to ‘Communism’ and to ‘European Imperialism’ are so empty as regards Foreign Service Officers as to merit no further comment.

After 17 years service in China I know that our officers have been good friends to China, faithful in carrying out their instructions, and devoted to the interests of the United States.[”]

Mr. Service has similarly been considering a brief statement as follows:

“Mr. Hurley’s charges before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as reported in the press, that I ‘proposed that Chiang’s government be allowed to collapse’, and that I circulated my reports [to] the Communists are wholly untrue.[”]

I shall, of course, report to the Department if and when any statement is made.

  1. See telegram No. 196, December 8, from the Acting Political Adviser in Japan (Atcheson), p. 732.
  2. Telegram No. 324, February 28, 1 p.m., from the Chargé in China, p. 242.