Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with John H. Holdridge
HOLDRIDGE: Well, to tell you the truth not very much. Just go out there and do your thing. And learn from experience.
Q: I mean were they saying, was there anyone talking about that now you were up against the State Department as an institution, was anyone saying about China or whether...
HOLDRIDGE: No. It seemed pretty obvious that the next quarter of the century at least, in the foreseeable future, China was going to be run by Communists. We didn't know what that entailed. We were just keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that some way we might be able to contribute to U.S. foreign policy, of course, from our level, rather low.
Q: Were you more or less prepared to say, OK, this is how we are going to be working on the periphery of China or in Taiwan or in other places, and be monitoring China?
HOLDRIDGE: That is exactly what the philosophy was. Rather than let us be transferred entirely out of the region, whoever was in charge of the bureau at the time, or maybe somebody like Phil Sprouse, decided that people with Chinese language training would be assigned to places where they would be able to use it. In Bangkok, for instance, where I was, a very substantial proportion of the population is Chinese, of Chinese origin. Even though they don't necessarily speak Mandarin all that well, Mandarin was taught in the Chinese schools. So, I could get around with Mandarin, wherever I went. Others went to Taiwan. Arthur Rosen was sent to Taiwan when we had a very small mission there. We didn't want to interfere with any civil war, so their job was just to watch how things were going between the Kuomintang and the mainland. Some were sent to Korea, and various other places in East Asia with just a sort of watching brief.
Q: You are in Thailand, you're there, September 1950ish, what was the situation as you saw it in Thailand at this time?