to Mr. Evarts.
Peking, November 22, 1880. (Received January 17, 1881.)
Sir: There have been many interviews between the foreign office at Peking and the ministers of western powers on the forms of official intercourse. In this country where so much importance is attached to official etiquette and ceremony, this is a matter of consequence. It was taken up in the diplomatic conferences of last winter. A minute from the foreign office accompanying Mr. Seward’s No. 692, of May 27, 1880, shows how the subject was left at that time.
On the 24th of September the Tsung-li Yamên submitted to Sir Thomas Wade, to whom the diplomatic body had specially assigned the management of this matter, another memorandum suggested by personal interviews with him. Sir Thomas Wade reported this to a diplomatic conference held on October 25. He was instructed by his colleagues to ask for some slight changes in the propositions of the Tsung-li Yamên, and at a conference held on November 15 he was able to report that the changes proposed had been assented to by the Yamên. This paper, as amended, is herewith inclosed. The changes proposed on October 25, and adopted by the Yamên, were the following:
At the beginning of the fourth paragraph the word “henceforward” was inserted. In the third line of the same paragraph the words “incumbent on” were substituted for “open to.” The first line of the sixth paragraph originally read, “The treaties stipulate that consuls,” &c.; whereas it now reads, “There is a difference between the treaties of the different powers. In some it is stipulated that consuls,” &c.
By reference to the proceedings of the commission plenipotentiary it will be seen that an effort was made to secure in one of the treaties negotiated the insertion of an article binding the Chinese Government [Page 206] to the proposition they have assented to in this memorandum. Though that effort did not succeed, there is no reason to doubt that by proper official action the rules suggested will be promulgated and made binding on the provincial authorities. The completion of the business with the Tsung-li Yamên is still left to Sir Thomas Wade, who hopes to report final action at no distant day.
I have, &c.,