No. 103.

Mr. Young to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 596.]

Sir: There has been much discussion recently in mercantile and official circles in China in regard to the falling off in the tea trade. The effect of this is seen in many ways, especially in its effect upon business. Inquiry shows that this is largely to be attributed to the efforts of the Indian Government to develop tea-culture in Assam.

The success of these efforts will be seen in the fact that while in 1870 England imported from Assam 10,000,000 pounds of tea, the import has steadily increased until in 1884 it is estimated at 66,664,359 pounds. While the Indian export has been advancing, that from China has been decreasing, falling off from 125,000,000 pounds in 1879 to 110,000,000 pounds in 1882. This is to be accounted for by the better methods of Government which prevail in India, the adoption of modern appliances in agricultural machinery and methods of culture, and in a much more liberal commercial policy than what prevails in China.

It is a lamentable fact that while the growth of tea diminishes in China, the opium harvest increases. Opium gradually supplants tea. If England should lose her Indian revenues from opium, she will gain them from tea. No one can deny that this will be a sorry exchange for China. In the event of the continuance of war between China and France, one of the immediate results to be anticipated is the development of tea-culture in India. As during our own war the cotton growth was transferred from the Southern States to India and Egypt, so it is within the range of probability that one of the consequences of the [Page 147] present war will be the transfer of the tea trade from China to India and Japan. Whether China will be able to recover it when peace comes, as we recovered our cotton trade, is very doubtful.

I am, &c.,