Letter from Derek Bryan and Needham to members of Friends of China. Sometime before March 1965
We wish to inform you that we are consulting with a number of people with a view to forming a national organisation under the name: Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding.
As you will remember, this proposal was one of the suggestions made by Dr. Needham when he spoke at your last meeting. On that occasion Dr. Needham expressed the tentative view that because of the problems involved in creating a genuinely broad organisation, there might possibly be a role for two organisations catering for different types of activity.
On reflection, however, both Dr. Needham and myself have come to the conclusion that the disadvantages of this situation would far outweigh any possible advantages. We believe that a unified organisation would be the best way of working for our common aim, that of fully presenting China to the public.
We recognise that in the somewhat confused situation that succeeded the last AGM of the BCFA., many good friends of China partially lost contact with each other. As a result a number of different activities, aimed at carrying out the tasks abandoned by the BCFA., were undertaken by groups in different parts of the country.
We consider that such pioneering work during the last year has been most positive, and the experience gained, and thought put in, by the FoC groups in developing regional activity amongst the general public is undoubtedly going to be of great value in the future. We wish to make it absolutely clear, therefore, that there is no intention on our part to belittle FoC's work, or to abandon the broad objective of presenting the whole of China to Britain.
We feel, however, that in order to avoid misunderstandings, both amongst those working for China and the general public, it would be wise, before any public declarations are made, for FoC and SACU to come together for mutual discussions with the object of arriving at a common understanding and a united body as quickly as possible. Like yourselves we consider that the formation of a national organisation on the broadest possible basis is urgent, but we recognise that this can only be successfully achieved by a thorough discussion and exchange of views and experiences of all those groups and individuals who have been actively carrying forward the work in the recent period.
We suggest, therefore, that at the earliest possible time our two organisations, or representatives from there, should meet and begin discussions leading to the formation of a united body. Pending the conclusion of these discussions, we suggest that, in the interests of agreement and the inclusion of all in the work, FoC might consider postponing its present programme of inauguration as a national organisation on March 7th. We, on our side, of course, will act similarly.
We very much hope you will give serious consideration to our proposals. Please accept our very best wishes, and may we soon all be working side by side for our common aim of building a true and lasting friendship between the Chinese and British peoples.
[Handwritten Notes: All of us who are keen on this course are grateful for the work of FoC gps and success of London mtgs.. Hope steps up gp activities.
Nat. FoC. premature.
Appeal to call of the proposed mtg 7 Mar and keep situation fluid so that can all join in discussing]
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