The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 25.]
Sir: I have the honor to forward, in original and hectograph, the text of a memorandum dated Janary 15, 1947 from Major General John P. Lucas, Chief of the Army Advisory Group, Nanking, which briefly outlines the status of civil aviation in China and makes recommendations for its rehabilitation. This memorandum was prepared by Brigadier General John P. McConnell, the Director of the Air Division, Army Advisory Group, in response to an earlier request from General Marshall1 for a frank and thoroughgoing survey with recommendations on this subject to be made available to Generalissimo Chiang.2
The memorandum was translated into the Chinese language at the Embassy, and on January 21, 1947 I handed a Chinese copy to the Generalissimo, who received it gratefully and promised that he himself would read it through.
On February 7 I met the Generalissimo again, and he informed me that he had read the memorandum carefully and with much interest and subsequently had despatched a copy to General Yu Ta Wei, Minister for Communications, for his perusal and for the attention of Colonel Ango Tai, Director of the Civil Aeronautics Administration. General Yu has been ill for the past fortnight so that no reactions from him have been forthcoming, but Colonel Tai has subsequently requested from General McConnell an English language copy of the memorandum which has been supplied him. At his request an English language copy was also given to T. V. Soong, President of the Executive Yuan.
In the Embassy’s view this memorandum presents an accurate and wholly frank criticism of the conditions under which air travel has been [Page 1008] operating in China, and its suggestions seem entirely acceptable and constructive. There is no doubt that the numerous air tragedies to which Chinese civil aviation has suddenly fallen victim in recent weeks have thoroughly shaken the confidence which Chinese aviation authorities previously displayed both publicly and in negotiations on aviation matters. This confidence arose out of an underestimation of the difficulties surrounding successful operation of modern aircraft, and was reflected in the careless manner in which planes were being loaded and the conditions—meteorological and navigational—under which they were permitted to take off and to attempt to land. The coincidence of the recent accidents and the delivery of this memorandum to the highest officials of the Chinese Government is expected to result in a much more welcome reception for the recommendations contained therein than could otherwise have been expected, and it is hoped that some at first small-scale undertakings along the lines suggested will soon be apparent.
In view of the reference on pages 7 and 83 of the memorandum to the application of Pan American Airways for an Export-Import Bank loan, it is suggested that a copy of this despatch and its enclosure be supplied the Bank.
Minister-Counselor of Embassy
- General of the Army George C. Marshall, Special Representative of President Truman in China, December 1945–January 1947; he became Secretary of State, January 21, 1947.↩
- Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, President of the National Government of the Republic of China.↩
- Section on “Sound and sufficient financial support,” not printed.↩
- China National Aviation Corporation.↩
- Central Air Transport Corporation.↩
- Chinese Air Force.↩