No. 57.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard.

No. 142.]

Sir: This legation has, during the past few years, addressed several dispatches to the Department on the question of dredging the Woo-Sung Bar in the Huang p’u River, near Shanghai, the importance of which [Page 92] operation is well known to the Department. On January 21, 1882, the chargé d’affaires ad interim in China, wrote to the Department announcing that steps had been taken by the Chinese authorities to dredge the bar and deepen the channel of water communication between Shanghai and the sea. A dredge was purchased and work actually commenced, but the outbreak of troubles with France shortly after arrested the work, which has not since been resumed.

On the 16th of April last the diplomatic corps at Peking decided to address the Yamên on the subject.

I inclose herewith the note which I sent the Yamên. The answer which I received under date May 31 appears satisfactory, and we have every reason to believe that work on the bar will be resumed at an early date, especially as the request of the foreign representatives is backed by one which the Shanghai taotai has recently made to the Tsung-li Yamên begging that the dredging might be recommenced at once.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1, in No. 142.]

Mr. Denby to the Foreign Office .


Your Imperial Highness and Your Excellencies:

This legation, in common with the representatives of the other treaty powers, has had occasion in past years to address you on the subject of the bar which exists in the Huang Pú River and which constitutes such a grave obstacle in the way of vessels desiring to reach Shanghai.

The Chinese Government, well aware of the importance of removing this barrier to trade, had commenced this work several years ago. Political complications came and arrested the execution of this most essential undertaking, but now, that these have happily been removed, nothing can be in the way of the Government carrying out, what we know, from the assurances it has formerly given this legation, to be its steadfast purpose, the removal of a serious obstruction in the way of trade and a source of additional expense to the owners of ships entering Shanghai.

I therefore beg to call the early attention of your imperial highness and your excellencies to the advisability of recommencing the work of dredging the bar in the Huang Pú (the Woosung Bar) and of completing a great work of general usefulness which has only been arrested in its execution by unforeseen circumstances.

I avail myself, &c.,

[Inclosure 2, in No. 142.]

The Foreign Office to Mr. Denby .


In reply to your excellency’s note of May 21, in which, referring to the Woosung bar in the Huang Pú River, you request that the work of dredging may be resumed, as it is, difficult for foreign shipping to reach Shanghai and increases greatly their expenses, this Yamên has to state that the question of dredging the Woosung bar has already been the subject of dispatches and notes similar to the above from the ministers of Russia, England, and Germany. This Yamên has already written to the southern superintendent of trade asking him to direct the Shanghai customs taotai to inquire into the subject and ascertain whether the now unused dredge, which had been formerly bought for the purpose, has at present its machinery in good working order, and if it be in condition to commence work at once. The question has not yet been decided, and when the reply of the southern superintendent of trade comes to hand and the plans submitted have been examined, we will address you further on the subject.

We avail ourselves, &c.