Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (Ringwalt) to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Butterworth)

The Department of the Army, in its letter of February 24, 1948, stated that, in addition to the ammunition in the Marianas already transferred to the Chinese Government, there were “an additional 59,462 tons of ammunition at the following locations, available for sale through OFLC to the Chinese Government:

Marianas (Saipan and Tinian) 14,696 tons
Hawaii 17,266 tons
Okinawa 27,500 tons

The penultimate paragraph of this letter is as follows: “It appears that the problem now, in the main, is that of transporting the ammunition to China. The Chinese Government apparently is without the means to effect early movement of the above tonnage. The Department of the Army, in order to assist the Chinese Government in moving this ammunition to China, has neither the authority to participate, nor the funds required to defray handling and transportation costs.” From this paragraph it would appear that it is the intent of the Department of the Army to place upon the Department of State the responsibility for initiating action in support of a program which would place on this Government the responsibility for the handling and transportation of the ammunition.

I have discussed with General Brown of FLC the feasibility of utilizing the special deposit of $25,000,000 provided under the terms of the Surplus Property Agreement with China. It is his opinion, however, that the pertinent clauses of the Agreement preclude any use of this deposit. According to paragraph c of Article 3 this deposit is to be used “in accomplishing the transfer of the property sold hereby”. Article 1 reads in part as follows:73“… the United States sells … property … surplus to its needs except air-craft (and) nondemilitarized combat material. …”

[Page 34]

It would seem pertinent to review briefly the capabilities of the Chinese Government itself to move the surplus ammunition. According to a report prepared by the Office of the Military Attaché at Nanking (Report No. R–92–48, dated January 30, 1948),74 the Chinese Merchant Marine at present consists of the following ocean-going vessels:

13 Liberty Ships
5 LST’s
60 other miscellaneous vessels some of which are Japanese
78 Total

In a study dated March 15, 1948,74 prepared for me by DRF,75 it is stated that China’s present fleet is adequate and perhaps excessive for current commercial needs and that, in terms of vessels particularly suitable for moving large tonnages of cargo over ocean routes, China is better off than ever in its history. Although diversion of ships to military use has cut heavily into China’s Merchant Fleet, it is generally understood that the effects of this diversion could be lessened if military traffic were better coordinated. In sum, it appears to me that the Chinese themselves are quite capable of, and should assume, the responsibility for the movement of the surplus ammunition which they purchase.

A[rthur] R. R[ingwalt]
  1. Omissions indicated in the original.
  2. Not found in Department files.
  3. Not found in Department files.
  4. Division of Research for Far East.