The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Patterson)


My Dear Mr. Secretary: This Department has under advisement a proposal to inaugurate, as a supplement to arrangements which it is understood have already been made by the War Department, a project looking to a study of the mapping requirements of China, the adequacy of its present available surveying and mapping personnel, and the mapping organization of the central government, and to assistance to that government in the formulation of a plan for the eventual adequate surveying and mapping of Chinese territory.

The proposal contemplates, as an initial step, the detail to China, under the program of the Interdepartmental Committee on Cultural and Scientific Cooperation, of a mission of three surveying and mapping experts to study the present organization, equipment, and the adequacy of personnel, and to prepare an appropriate report for the use of both governments.

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This matter has been discussed informally with Colonel Gerald Fitzgerald, formerly Commanding Officer, Headquarters Aeronautical Chart Service, Army Air Forces, with Colonel Albert G. Matthews, Chief, Military Intelligence Division, Office of the Chief of Engineers, and with representatives of the United States Geological Survey, Department of the Interior. The Director of the Geological Survey, Dr. William E. Wrather, has indicated an interest in this undertaking and would be prepared to recommend to the Secretary of the Interior the utilization of the Survey’s facilities to implement any project that may be formulated, subject to the appropriation of funds for that purpose and to the approval or acquiescence of the War Department.

Any cooperative program looking to the accomplishment of the contemplated objectives would, of course, be dependent upon the passage of the necessary enabling legislation and the eventual appropriation of funds. A bill3 is now pending before the Congress, the purpose of which is to extend the scope of this Department’s present program of cooperation with the other American republics, and the proposed mapping project in China would be undertaken in pursuance of that bill, if enacted into law.

It should be emphasized that, although there is reason to believe that a project of this kind would be acceptable to the Chinese Government on a cooperative basis, that Government has made no overtures, nor have there been any negotiations concerning the matter. For the present, therefore, it is desired that this proposal be held confidential.

In view of the known interest of the War Department in mapping activities, I should appreciate an indication of your views concerning the proposal outlined hereinabove, and any recommendations you may wish to make.

Sincerely yours,

For the Secretary of State:
William Benton
  1. H. R. 3835, 79th Cong., 1st sess.; introduced by Representative Sol Bloom (New York) on July 18, 1945, Congressional Record, vol. 91, pt. 6, p. 7742.