to Mr. Evarts
Peking , November 30, 1880. (Received January 17, 1881.)
Sir: Mr. Seward, in his No. 665, of April 22, 1880, informed the Department that among the subjects taken up at that time by the diplomatic body here for joint consideration was that of inland taxation of goods imported into China. Sir Thomas Wade, Her Britannic Majesty’s minister, was charged with the presentation of the subject to the Tsung-li Yamên.[Page 211]
At the meeting of the diplomatic body held October 28, Sir Thomas made a verbal report of his interviews with the Yamên in the matter. He announced that he had been brought to the conclusion that the foreign office would be willing to assent to the imposition of a fixed duty higher than the present tariff prescribes, on the payment of which the goods imported could be exempted from all further taxes of every kind, no matter into what part of the empire they might be carried. The ministers present expressed themselves as disposed to recommend to their respective governments the adoption of such a plan, provided the import duty was fixed at a reasonable rate.
At the conference of November 15, Sir Thomas Wade presented a written report, which will be found appended as an inclosure to the dispatch No. 15 of the commission plenipotentiary.
It will be seen that Sir Thomas had taken as the basis of his argument with the foreign office the fact that in 1868, in negotiating with Sir Rutherford Alcock, they had consented to accept the payment of an import duty of 7½ per cent. in lieu of the import duty of 5 per cent. and all inland taxation in the treaty-port provinces. When called on to name a rate which would now be satisfactory, they mention 12½ per cent. Sir Thomas, however, received the impression that they would be willing ultimately to fix a rate intermediate between 7½ and 12½ The views of the ministers and of the commissioners plenipotentiary are expressed in a memorandum on Sir Thomas Wade’s report drawn by Mr. Von Brandt, the German minister. A copy of this memorandum is also inclosed with No. 15 of the commission to the Department.
Sir Thomas Wade is still continuing discussions of the subject with the foreign office.
I have, &c.,