to Mr. Felinghuysen.
Peking, March 15, 1883. (Received May 24.)
Sir: The frequent rumors in reference to military and naval preparations on the part of China and Japan have interest because of the strained relations between these two countries. I have kept the Department well informed, confidentially and otherwise, of the information that has come to the legation. There are many irritating questions between China and Japan, which all require wisdom and patience on the part of the two Governments, or, that failing, the earnest persuasion of the outside powers to prevent serious complications.
Some weeks ago there was a report that the Chinese were building ten gunboats at Shanghai and two at Foochow. I made inquiry as to its truth. The result of this inquiry will be found in inclosures from Mr. Cheshire, the vice-consul-general, and Mr. Win gate, the consul at Foochow.
Mr. Cheshire confirms the statement so far as Shanghai is concerned, but explains that the proposed new vessels, small gunboats, are to be iron plated and to do service on the Yangtse River. I do not suppose, however, that in an emergency they would be incapable of doing service elsewhere.
Mr. Win gate reports that one war vessel to carry eight guns is almost completed at Foochow, and that the work has been done by Chinese artisans and under the superintendence of Chinese experts who had studied the art in France. It is said also that four more vessels of the same class will soon be constructed at Foochow.
These reports have value when read in connection with the news from Japan of appropriations and expenditures for military purposes. It has a further interest as showing, first, that the Chinese Government have resolved upon a steady increase of the navy; and, second, that they are learning how to build their own vessels, and do not intend to depend upon the ship-yards of Germany and England.
I have, &c.,