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United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. China Office. OAC



Biographical History

On November 9, 1943, the agreement establishing the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was signed by 44 Allied Nations, including the United States, to provide supplies and services to areas under occupation by the Axis Powers. The largest project undertaken by UNRRA was the China program which had a total estimated cost of $658.4 million dollars. Approximately 72% of UNRRA's fund was contributed by the United States, or $474 million dollars for the China Program.

The China Office was opened in Shanghai at the end of 1944, and operated until the official termination of the office on December 31, 1947. Final work and responsibilities were finished by March, 1948. The four directors of the China Office from 1944 to 1948 were:

  • Benjamin H. Kizer (Oct. 24, 1944 - May 15, 1946)
  • J. Franklin Ray, Jr. (Acting director, May 16, 1946 - August 26, 1947)
  • Major General Glen E. Edgerton (August 27, 1946 - May, 1947)
  • Harlan Cleveland (May 1, 1947 - February 24, 1948).

In January, 1945 the Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (CNRRA) was created by the Nationalist Government, as a special agency to administer and coordinate UNRRA operations in China. Prior to the breakdown in the interparty peace negotiations between the Nationalists and Chinese Communists in 1946, the Chinese Communists established the Communists Liberated Areas Relief Administration (CLARA) which distributed UNRRA supplies delivered to Communist territories.

The 2nd Resolution on Policy of the First Session of the Council of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, adopted in 1943, states the following:

That, in any area where relief and rehabilitation operations are being conducted through the employment, in whole or in part, of the Administration's resources, relief and rehabilitation shall be distributed or dispensed fairly on the basis of the relative needs of the population in the area, and without discrimination because of race, creed, or political belief.

The provinces of the North, which had been under the longest occupation by the Japanese, were also the areas of Chinese Communist guerilla activity. After the Japanese surrender, these territories fell under Chinese Communist control. Difficulties arose in the distribution of aid due to the reality of civil war. The official history of the Administration estimates that 2-3% (by weight) or 4-5% (by value) of all UNRRA supplies were distributed to Communist-held territories.

The UNRRA program was conceived as a short-term program, but long-range goals to remove the causes of necessity in war-devastated areas were also present. Food, medical supplies and clothing were distributed as relief, and projects undertaken as part of industrial and agricultural rehabilitation were of great importance for long-range economic development.

The Recordsincluded in this collection were sent to the Hoover Institution by a U.S. Army Intelligence officer named Pardee Lowe. Obtained from the Shanghai Office prior to its closing, the Recordsdo not constitute the complete office file of the Administration. These Recordsare located in the UN Archives in New York City and occupy 8,500 linear feet. The most comprehensive file in the collection at the Hoover Institution relates to the Agricultural Rehabilitation Division.

Sources: UNRRA: The History of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, George Woodbridge (NY: Columbia U.P., 1950) 3 vol. and UNRRA: A Case Study in Financial Assistance for Economic Development, Irving Barnett, Ph.D. Thesis, Columbia University, 1955.

From the finding aid for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. China Office. Records, 1943-1948 (Hoover Institution Archives)

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