No. 48.
Mr. Young to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 494.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose you a copy of the recent convention between China and France. The Department will note, in parallel columns, a translation into English from both the French and Chinese texts. While the French text must be accepted as conveying the exact meaning of the treaty, the variation in forms of expression and the evident intent of the writers is worthy of attention.

I have, &c.,


The Government of the French Republic and His Majesty the Emperor of China, being desirous, by means of a preliminary convention, the terms of which shall serve as a basis for a definite treaty, to put an end to a crisis which to-day gravely affects the public tranquillity and the general movement of affairs, and to re-establish and secure forever those relations of good neighborliness and friendship which should exist between the two nations, have named as their respective plenipotentiaries, that is to say. His Majesty the Emperor of China, his excellency Li Hung Chang, senior tutor presumptive of the son of His Majesty the Emperor, first secretary of state, viceroy of Chihli, a hereditary noble of the first class of the third rank; the Government of the French Republic, Monsieur Ernest-Francois Fournier, frigate, captain, commander of the dispatch vessel Volta, officer of the Legion of Honor, &c., who, having exchanged their full powers, which have been found in good and due form, have agreed upon the following articles:

translation from official french and chinese texts compared.

[Page 102]
From French text. From Chinese text.
Article I. Article I.
France engages herself to respect and to defend, against every nation whatever and in all circumstances, the southern frontier of China bordering upon Tonquin. Whatever contingencies may arise, also in the case of encroachment by other nations, France agrees to secure and protect the southern frontier of China which is contiguous to Northern Annam.
Article II. Article II.
The Celestial Empire, reassured by these formal guarantees of good neighborliness which are given by France respecting the integrity and security of the southern frontiers of China, engages itself:
To, as soon as may be, withdraw to its own frontiers the Chinese garrison of Tonquin.
To respect in the present and future the treaties made or which shall be made directly between France and the court of Hué.
There being no fear, after the convincing proofs given by France, of that country’s making encroachments or causing disturbances, China agrees at once to recall to her own frontier all her troops now stationed in Northern Annam; also, not to concern herself with any existing or future treaties between France and Annam.
Article III. Article III.
In recognition of the conciliatory attitude of the Government of the Celestial Empire, and as a tribute to the patriotic wisdom of his excellency Li Hung Chang, negotiator of this convention, France renounces her demand for an indemnity from China. In return, China engages herself to admit, throughout the entire extent of her southern frontiers bordering upon Tonquin, a free commercial traffic as between Annam and France on the one part and China on the other, said traffic to be regulated by a commercial treaty and a tariff, which shall be made in the most conciliatory spirit on the part of the Chinese negotiators and in terms as advantageous as possible to French commerce. Ingratitude for China’s wish to arrange matters, and out of respect for the earnest desire shown by Li for the general welfare, France is willing not to demand any indemnity from China. At the same time China promises that, on her frontier which touches Northern Annam, she will allow French and Annamite and likewise Chinese goods to come and go and be disposed of fully. She also agrees that when’ she sends an envoy to conclude the detailed treaty, he shall also arrange a tariff, which shall be exceedingly liberal, and which will thus be of great advantage to French and Annamite trade.
Article IV. Article IV.
The French Government engages itself not, to employ any expression of a nature to infringe upon the prestige of the Celestial Empire in the enactment of a definite treaty which shall be concluded with Annam, and which shall abrogate former treaties relative to Tonquin. France agrees that in future, in making or altering any treaty with Annam, she will in no case insert expressions derogatory to the prestige or dignity of China, and she will annul all her existing treaties with Annam which injuriously affect Tonquin.
Article V. Article V.

When the present convention shall have been signed, the two Governments will name their plenipotentiaries, who shall meet within a period of three months, to elaborate a definite treaty upon the basis of the foregoing articles.

In accordance with diplomatic usage, the French text shall be authoritative.

Done at Tien-Tsin, May 11, 1884 (Kuang Hsu, 10th year, 4th moon, 17th day), in four copies, being two each in the French and Chinese languages, to which the respective plenipotentiaries have affixed their names and seals. Each plenipotentiary preserves one copy of each text.

This convention having now been signed and sealed, the two powers will, within a period of three months, appoint their respective plenipotentiaries, who shall conclude a definite treaty upon all the various points hereinbefore mentioned.

Signed and sealed in French and Chinese, being two copies of each, each party preserving one set as proof.

In accordance with diplomatic usage, the French text shall be regarded as correct.

May 11, 1884.

The Representative of the Government of the French Republic. The Representative of the Celestial Empire.