Jimmy Roosevelt tells China to bank on U.S. aid (4-30-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 30, 1941)

By A. T. Steele

Chungking, April 30 –
Capt. Jimmy Roosevelt, with his infectious smile and genial manner in winning friends wherever he goes, is here in the capital of Free China. He arrived yesterday by plane for a four or five-day stopover en route to his new post in Cairo where he will act as military observer of Africa and the Near East.

To this country which feels it has been badly let down by several of its supposed allies, Capt. Roosevelt’s words of greeting were welcome and heartening:

America never lets its friends down.

And that was just the assurance that the long-suffering Chinese need after the shock of the Russo-Japanese Neutrality Pact, and at the time when the Japanese are talking of appeasing America and when fears – apparently quite without foundation – are gaining ground that Great Britain, in dire distress, may again become susceptible to Japanese demands for closure of the Burma Road.

Met by big delegation

Capt. Roosevelt was met at the island airport in the middle of the Yangtze by delegates from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the War Ministry and Foreign Office and the American Embassy. All the American correspondents were there and also the entire news staff of the Soviet TASS agency, energetically clicking cameras.

As though an augury, two planes, each loaded with $10 million in Chinese banknotes, came in from Hong Kong just before Capt. Roosevelt’s arrival. A third Douglas carried Capt. Roosevelt. Dressed in civvies, he carried a haversack.

He and his colleague, Maj. Gerald Thomas, were immediately taken in hand by Lt. Col. James M. McHugh, American naval attaché, who is managing their brief China tour.

Meets high officials

After puffing up several hundred of Chungking’s famous stone steps, from the river bank to a waiting car, Capt. Roosevelt was taken to T. V. Soong’s bungalow, recently vacated by the Hemingways (author Ernest Hemingway and his wife), where he will reside during his stay here.

Later, he paid a call on Premier-Finance Minister H. H. Kung and afterwards lunched with United States Ambassador Nelson Trusler Johnson, whose solid build and unfailing good humor have won him the name among some Chinese of the “Laughing Buddha of the South Bank.”

In the afternoon, he met War Minister He Yingqin and later had tea with Generalissimo and Mme. Chiang, when he presented written and oral greetings from his father to the Chinese leader.

Will inspect arsenals

Today in a one-hour flight to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, Capt. Roosevelt visited the largest air base in China. He is expected to dine tonight with Foreign Minister Dr. Wang Ch’ung-hui and tomorrow to inspect a few of China’s 24 arsenals, which at present are producing the greater part of the country’s requirements in small arms and munitions.

Capt. Roosevelt told reporters that he was here “to learn, not to advise” and that his main interests were ordinance and communications.

When he leaves here for Rangoon and Cairo, he will stop over for a few hours at Lashio, the starting point of the Burma Road.