Mr. Holcombe to Mr. Evarts.
Peking , March 12, 1879. (Received May 5.)
Sir: I regret to be obliged to report the opening of a fresh chapter in the history of the transit passes—ten in number—taken out at [Page 216] Hankow by Mr. M. A. Jenkins or the export of native produce from Szchuen.
In my dispatch, No. 104, of January 18, I had the honor to inform you that the Szchuen viceroy had promptly disapproved the action the Lekin tax-officer at Kwei Chow, and ordered him to respect th transmit certificates, and to pass the merchandise covered by them.
Upon the 23d of February I received a further dispatch in the premises from Prince Kung, a translation of which is inclosed. It merely covered a report from the Lekin officer, sent through the viceroy, that, upon the 28th of December, Mr. Jenkins had presented two of the passes at the tax station and that the goods covered by them had been passed the same day. It further declared that no obstacles had been put in Mr. Jenkins’s way by the officials at Kwei Chow.
This appeared to be very satisfactory. But, upon the 6th instant, I received a dispatch in the same matter from Mr. Shepard, in which a state of the case strangely at variance with the report of the Lekin official was developed. According to the consul’s letter, the merchandise represented by two passes was entered at the Kwei Chow tax-station, not, indeed, upon December 28, but January 2. So far, however, from having been passed the same day, permission to pass it without the payment of the usual taxes was refused, and, upon the 16th January, the merchandise was still detained at Kwei Chow, with no prospect of release.
Immediately upon receipt of this information, I addressed a dispatch to Prince Kung, a copy of which is inclosed. In it, as you will see, I called his attention to the sharp contrast between the facts of the situa-atiou, as reported by our consul, and the statements of the Lekin deputy. I also spoke somewhat plainly in regard to the conduct of the local officer, and requested the Prince to send stringent orders to him to release the merchandise at once.
I inclose a translation of the reply of His Imperial Highness. It is merely routine in its nature; yet it may be that the instructions sent are more stringent than the Prince cares to indicate.
I wish I could add that circumstances such as are set forth in these inclosures are of rare occurrence in China. But the reverse is the fact. It is difficult to induce the foreign office to issue the necessary orders for a faithful performance of the promises contained in the treaties, and by no means certain that such orders, when issued, will be obeyed.
I shall press this business as vigorously as seems proper.
Asking your approval of my action, I have, &c.,