Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 4, 1883
to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Peking, August 18, 1883. (Received October 1.)
Sir: As a further reference to my dispatch No. 69, and in continuance of a discussion which for some years has been at issue between the foreign office and the diplomatic body, I have the honor to inclose you a copy of the last joint note addressed the Government by the foreign representatives, as well as the reply of his imperial highness to the same.
It is not necessary to repeat the arguments which have been so often advanced by my predecessors and myself. You will, however, note the declaration of Prince Kung, that “further discussion is useless. The Chinese ministers,” continues his imperial highness, “with your several Governments have been made entirely familiar with this discussion, and will be able to explain matters to the several secretaries of state.”
I have, &c.,
Foreign representatives to Prince Kung and the Tsung-li yamên.
Your Imperial Highness: The undersigned have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your imperial highness’s and your excellencies’ note of January 23, being an answer to the joint note of the foreign representatives of November 18, 1882.
It is with sincere regret that the undersigned have seen from the yamên’s note that your imperial highness and your excellencies still persist in the attempt to explain away the most undoubted rights granted by the treaties to the subjects and citizens of foreign powers residing in China under the faith and protection of these treaties. Under these circumstances the undersigned can see no advantage in continuing at present the discussion upon the subjects under consideration. They have transmitted to their Governments the yamên’s last note, as well as former correspondence on the subject, and they shall expect the instructions of their Governments before proceeding further in the matter.
At the same time, while expressing their sincere regret that their endeavors to arrive at a satisfactory understanding with the yamên should have remained without any practical result, the undersigned think it their duty to draw the attention of your imperial highness and your excellencies to the serious consequences which any attempt of the Chinese Government to infringe the rights granted by the treaties, as understood by the Governments of the undersigned, would undoubtedly carry with it.
Before closing this note, however, the undersigned, without wishing to reopen the discussion, think it necessary to reply to some of the allegations put forward by the yamên in their last note, and which, if they remain uncontradicted, might be considered [Page 207]by the yamên and brought forward by them in future discussions as positive facts. Your imperial highness and your excellencies state in the note that one of the points put forward by the foreign representatives was that foreign merchants, on paying the same duties as Chinese merchants, were at liberty to resell at the port, according to their own pleasure, native produce purchased by them.
This statement of the views of the undersigned is not entirely correct. What they have stated is that foreign merchants, having paid the inland charges on native produce purchased by them in the interior, or having purchased such produce at the port, are at liberty to resell it according to their own pleasure at the port, and to forward it coastwise or into the interior, under the existing rules on the subject.
Your imperial highness and your excellencies further state that the general tendency of the joint note was to claim for foreign merchants certain advantages which for more than twenty years they had not been enjoying.
To this the undersigned would reply that for ten and more years, foreign establishments have existed at Shanghai and some of the other open ports, in which the manufacture of native produce has been going on without ever any objections being raised against it by the Chinese Government. No new claim has therefore been put forward by the undersigned, but the reassertion of rights stipulated for by the treaties has been rendered necessary by the attempt of the yamên, first begun a year ago, to deny them.
With regard to the negotiations carried on by Sir Thomas Wade and the yamên on the subject of the import trade, the undersigned beg to draw the attention of your imperial highness and your excellencies to the statement made by Sir Thomas Wade, that any arrangement intended to change the present mode of taxation of foreign imports could be only a provisional one, on probation, and that, before its introduction , measures would have to be adopted to serve as guarantees for the faithful execution of the arrangement. The proceedings of the yamên during the negotiations on the questions of import and export trade have, however, hardly been such as to encourage the undersigned to recommend to their Governments the adoption of the measure discussed between Sir Thomas Wade and the yamên.
The undersigned seize the opportunity, &c.,
- VON BRANDT,
Minister for Germany.
- N. BOURÉE,
Minister for France.
- JNO. RUSSELL YOUNG,
Minister for United States.
- DE NOIDANS,
H. B. M.’s Chargé d’ Affaires.
Russian Chargé d’ Affaires.
- GIL DE URIBARRI,
Spanish Chargé d’ Affaires.
Prince Kung to foreign representatives.
I have had the honor to receive your joint dispatch of April 3, in the matter of the manufactures of native produce. In it you acknowledge receipt of my communication of January last, and declare that it shows a desire on the part of this office to explain away the most undoubted rights granted by the several treaties; that under these circumstances you can see no advantage in continuing at present the discussion; that you have transmitted the entire correspondence to your Governments, and that you will await instructions before proceeding further, &c.
In this business I have already set forth clearly and in detail the serious difficulties which surround it on several occasions, and there is naturally no occasion to annoy you with a further repetition of them. But as you remark in your dispatch that a reply was necessary to some statements made in my earlier communication, lest they might at a later moment be brought forward as positive facts; so, in turn, there are certain remarks which must be made by me on the present occasion.[Page 208]
The dispatch under reply declares that the right to manufacture at the open ports is most undoubtedly granted by the several treaties, a right which China now refuses to concede. I beg to observe that the several treaties were concluded more than twenty years ago, and that their stipulations in every point were long since put in force. How happens it that this one privilege alone, of such immense concern to foreign merchants, should have been unseen and not taken advantage of for this long period? It is quite evident without argument that this is really an attempt to initiate at the present time a new enterprise. Still further, of all kinds of merchandise none is unembraced in the tariff of duties. How is it then that the treaty tariff utterly fails to contain any provision for merchandise manufactured at the ports? The proposition of his excellency Mr. Von Brandt to levy one full duty on such merchandise is manifestly prompted by a desire to develop something out of nothing. If reference be made to the words kung tso, then it must be said that not only have the Chinese characters no such interpretation as that assigned to them by you, but the foreign phrase also has no such absolute and positive meaning. And, in a matter of such immense importance, consent could only be given in case the language of the treaties contained the most explicit and precise stipulations upon the subject. How can two vague characters be held to embrace the whole question? To select out two characters from a treaty and to insist that these carry with them the consent of this Government in the matter in question is unreasonable. The subject has heretofore been dealt with in detail, and at the moment I only touch upon these important points.
Your dispatch further states that at Shanghai and other ports foreign establishments for the manufacture of native produce have been in operation without a single objection having been raised against them by this Government. The inference from this is not warranted. In 1861 Sir Thomas Wade sent instructions to the several ports interdicting the establishment of warehouses by foreign merchants in the interior of China. Although there is a difference between the interior and the open ports, yet the treaties nowhere contain any explicit stipulation which would permit foreign merchants to transport native produce from the interior, manufacture it at their option at the open ports, and thereafter to dispose of it by sale. Manifestly, the purchase of native produce at the port, its manufacture and sale, would not only interfere with the business of Chinese merchants, but would also cause a loss to the revenue.
Recently unprincipled Chinese may have connived with foreign merchants in violating the laws for the purpose of gain. This can with difficulty be avoided. But local officers have investigated such cases and reported them, and such practices will not be permitted. Chinese merchants guilty of such conduct will also be appropriately punished as a warning to others. Of this intention it is presumed that the consuls of the various ports are aware.
In regard to the unauthorized establishment of manufactories by foreign merchants, if this office had been informed by the local authorities of the establishment of such enterprises at any point, it would at once have addressed itself to the foreign representatives, with the request that orders be issued interdicting such establishments. How can an unauthorized enterprise of this kind be quoted as establishing a prescriptive right?
The dispatch, under reply, charges this office with a desire to disregard the treaties. On the contrary the desire of this office is, accurately stated, to see that the treaties shall not be violated. Thus manifest stipulations of the treaties have, without exception, been put into effect by it, but stipulations not distinctly found in the treaties cannot be added thereto. Chinese and foreign business methods are essentially the same. Some time since Sir Thomas Wade completed with China an arrangement for imports, but as the foreign mercantile class objected, the arrangement fell through.
Hence it is evident that it is difficult to go in the face of the opinions of the mercantile community. Aware of this, I did not address Sir Thomas Wade, insisting that our agreement be put in operation.
And now, in the manufacture of native produce at the ports, no arrangement was finally entered into with Mr. Von Brandt, because upon inquiry it was learned that the officials and people in the provinces were discussing and examining the question, with the result that Chinese merchants were opposed to it, as with one voice pointing out the difficulties in the way, and hence enforcement would be impossible.
I must add, in the terms of your dispatch, that further discussion is useless. The Chinese ministers, with your several Governments, have been made entirely familiar with this discussion, and will be able to explain matters to the several secretaries of state.
I must beg you to transmit all the observations and arguments presented upon this subject by me to your respective Governments for their consideration.