Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 04, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have a statement for you--getting to be a habit here lately. Saves a lot of questions, I find, though, if you clear them up before you start.

[Reading]: "The Department of State is publishing tomorrow a volume on the United States relations with China, particularly during the last 5 years. I asked the Secretary of State to have this record compiled and published.1

1United States Relations With China: With Special Reference to the Period 1944-1949. Based on the files of the Department of State. Department of State Publication 3573. Far Eastern Series 30. (Government Printing Office, 1949, 1054 pp.).

"My primary purpose in having this frank and factual record released at this time is to insure that our policy toward China and the Far East as a whole shall be based on informed and intelligent public opinion. This is the way in which our system of government acquires its strength. As I said in the speech at Chicago last month, 'Only if men know the truth are they in a position to work for a stable and peaceful world.' 'In this nation, foreign policy is not made by the decisions of a few. It is the result of the democratic process, and represents the collective judgment of the people.'

"The role of this Government in its relations with China has been subject to considerable misrepresentation, distortion, and misunderstanding. Some of these attitudes arose because this Government was reluctant to reveal certain facts, the publication of which might have served to hasten the events in China which have now occurred. In the present situation, however, the mutual interests of the United States and China require full and frank discussion of the facts. It is only in this way that the people of our country and their representatives in Congress can have the understanding necessary to the sound evolution of our foreign policy in the Far East.

"The Secretary of State in transmitting this record has made a clear and illuminating statement of the situation that exists in China, the nature of the problems that are presented, and the governing principles of our policies toward China. This statement will also be published and should be read, with the record, by everyone who is interested in problems of the Far East.

"The warm feeling of friendship between the people of the United States and the people of China has been one of the most notable facts in American foreign relations. That friendship is as strong today as it has ever been. The problem of finding ways to give practical expression to that friendship will continue to receive, day in and day out, the closest attention of this Government, and I know that it will receive the hopeful, constructive, forward-looking thought of the American people."

Now this China paper will be ready for distribution to the press at 2 o'clock today, at the State Department, and I will show you what a nice chore you are going to have. [Laughter] There it is. And it's complete and factual, and there's everything in it that you want to know about the China policy from the 1840's to the present day. And if you will take the time to carefully read and study it, you will know just about as much about China policy as the President does, and I think I know more about it than anybody else.

Q. Mr. President, does that include the Wedemeyer report?

THE PRESIDENT. It includes everything, and that's in there in toto. And everything that General Marshall ever did is in there, and anybody else you want to ask about. Even General Hurley is in there, in toto. [Laughter ]

Q. Mr. President, the present controversy over the American policy, as I see it--and I think possibly as you see it, too, aside from your official knowledge--is that we were too slow in doing something for China because of Communist influence in Washington, or Red influence, and that's--

THE PRESIDENT. Now, that question--that question is thoroughly and completely answered in there; and it was an entirely erroneous understanding.

Q. You recognize the question?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I recognize the question, and where it came from; but read this and then you will have it.

Q. Mr. President, are we allowed to take any new steps in China on China policy?

THE PRESIDENT. Read the China policy book.

Q. Does that include the recent conferences between President Quirino and General Chiang?

THE PRESIDENT. Everything that is necessary is in this book.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, we are told that Mrs. Roosevelt has written to you and offered to resign her UN job because of the Spellman controversy? 2

THE PRESIDENT. Mrs. Roosevelt every year offers to resign from her job on the UN, just because she thinks that the President ought to have a free hand to make an appointment. There was--she expressed no reason as to why she wanted to resign. Simply a matter of courtesy to me.

2See note in Item 166 [8].

Q. Will you accept, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. She is going back to the UN.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Hoffman and Secretary Sawyer have endorsed the idea of an international trade fair in some American city in the United States, to stimulate imports and to stimulate exports. According to reports, I think Atlantic City and Detroit have been mentioned as having made considerable progress towards establishing such a fair. Would you favor it for 1950?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it would be a fine thing. I am not picking any cities, however.

Q. Mr. President, I got lost somewhere along in that question. I was just wondering if we could--

THE PRESIDENT. An international fair-proposal for an international fair to be held some time in 1950 in the United States, to make sales of our products easier and to make imports easier so that one could offset the other. Sort of like the European fairs that have been held for generations.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, Representative Klein of New York said yesterday, after seeing Mr. Steelman, that you might have something to say shortly on the excise tax question?

THE PRESIDENT. I have seen the "Big Four," and they quoted me correctly at the front door of the White House, that it will require a great deal of research by the experts of the Ways and Means Committee, and the Finance Committee of the Senate, and the Treasury Department, before we can approach the excise tax problem as it should be; and it will be at least the next session before anything will be done about excise taxes.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, have you any suggestions for the Republicans who are now trying to pick a new chairman?

THE PRESIDENT. It would not be proper for me to interfere in the affairs of the Republican Party--except in a campaign.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you wish to comment on published reports that the United States Navy is planning another expedition to Antarctica?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that. In fact, I don't know anything about it. It hasn't been put up to me.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, did you see where Colonel Hunt bought 2500 books of matches from St. Louis "Swiped From Harry S. Truman"?

THE PRESIDENT. Anybody has a right to buy matches anywhere with anything on them that he wants to have put on them. That's the first I ever heard about that one.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, the President of the Philippines will be here Monday--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q.--for conferences with you--

THE PRESIDENT. I shall meet him at 4:30, as I always meet the heads of States. We shall have conferences at the Blair House, and he will have dinner with me that night, and the next night I will have dinner with him at the Philippine Embassy.

Q. Do you care to make any comment as to the possible topics of discussion?

THE PRESIDENT. Whatever the President of the Philippines desires to discuss with the President of the United States will be discussed.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, would you accept a compromise on your arms aid proposal?

THE PRESIDENT. The arms aid proposal ought to be passed--in the manner in which it was sent down, except for maybe legislative changes that will make it easier to handle--as quickly as possible.

Q. Mr. President, there has been considerable debate and criticism of section 3 of the arms aid bill, on the ground that it gives you blank check power.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't care anything about blank check power. All I want is to have an arms aid program so that it will work in a practical manner.

Q. You are opposed to a compromise on the sum?

THE PRESIDENT. The money, yes. The money thing.

Q. When you say blank check, that is giving aid to any country?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't particularly care whether that's in there or not. They are working on that situation now. All I want is that the European pact countries can be properly taken care of on rearmament, with our help, to implement the treaty so that it will be worth something.

[10.] Q. On the Mexican oil question that has come up several times recently, there is a report out now that the United States refused the loan because Mexico would not pay some back claims--

THE PRESIDENT. The United States has not refused the loan. It is still under consideration, and I am hopeful that the loan can be worked out.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, has Secretary Sawyer reported to you on his regional conference on business conditions?

THE PRESIDENT. He has reported to me on his visit to New England. He hasn't returned yet. He will report to me again, as soon as he does return. I can't make any comment on it until I see the full report.

Q. Mr. President, do you see any improvement in business conditions?

THE PRESIDENT, All I know is what I read in the papers, and even the Wall Street Journal says there is an improvement. [Laughter]

[12.] Q. Mr. President, on the China situation, do you see any possibility of China being rescued from the Communists?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on that. I would advise you to read the book, and you will get, then, the viewpoint just the same as I have.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, you are about to sign the unification bill?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't got to my desk yet. I am having it analyzed, and when it comes to my desk properly analyzed, if it's in the form that I think it is, I will probably sign it.3

3 See Item 177.

[14.] Mr. Ross [to the President]: I think that Quirino dinner is at the Statler Hotel.


Mr. Ross: That dinner for President Quirino.

THE PRESIDENT. Charlie says that the dinner for the President of the Philippines will be at the Statler Hotel. I was misinformed on it. The reason it's at the Statler is because of course we can't have it at the White House, and the Blair House is too small-not big enough.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, I am just trying to clear up about those matches. Did you get your matches from Colonel Hunt?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I did not. I don't know Colonel Hunt.

Q. Can you tell us how you get them, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, they come in every once in a while. People come in, sometimes, and hand me a box of them. Did you ever receive any matches?

Q. Yes sir--I got one from you. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I get boxes of matches from friends. They come to the White House all the time. We have a special brand particularly for the White House.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, when you refer to the international trade fair, is that officially supported by the United States Government, or is that--

THE PRESIDENT. It's in the embryo stage yet. Nothing official has been done about it. It's being talked about. Probably will be in the hands of the city that wants to have it, just as any world's fair is.

[17.] Q. One other thing I want to clear up, when you said Mrs. Roosevelt will go back, you mean she will be the delegate to the next UN session?

THE PRESIDENT. Next Assembly.

Q. Next Assembly.

THE PRESIDENT. Just the same job she always has.

Q. Did that offer of resignation come at the usual time?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Every year she always resigns. She tells me that if I want to appoint somebody else in her place, she will not be unhappy about it. Very formal. Just the customary formal politeness that Ambassadors and Delegates of the President always put forth.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and ninetysecond news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 4, 1949.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229822

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