Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, For the Year 1887, Transmitted to Congress, With a Message of the President, June 26, 1888
to Mr. Bayard.
Peking, February 18, 1887. (Received April 12.)
Sir: I herewith inclose a copy of the additional article of the Chefoo convention, relating to the tax on opium.
In anticipation of its promulgation large quantities of opium were landed during the last fortnight. It is now claimed by the customs that all this opium must pay the tax of 110 taels per chest. This claim is resisted by the importer, who asserts that the new regulation is not retroactive.
It is easy to be seen that the smuggling will be immensely stimulated by this enormous tax. But the Government expects to use energetic means for its prevention.
I would send other copies of this article, but they can not be procured at Peking.
I have, etc.,
the chefoo convention.
The following is the additional article of the Chefoo convention referred to in the express issued yesterday by P. J. Hughes, esq., Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general.
Additional article to the agreement between Great Britain and China, signed at Chefoo on the 13th September, 1876.
(Signed at London, 18th July, 1885.)
The Governments of Great Britain and China, considering that the arrangements proposed in clauses 1 and 2 of section III of the agreement between Great Britain and China, signed at Chefoo on the 13th September, 1876 (hereinafter referred to as the “Chefoo agreement”); in relation to the area within which lekin ought not to be collected on foreign goods at the open ports, and to the definition of the foreign settlement area, require further consideration also that the terms of clause 3 of the same section are not sufficiently explicit to serve as an efficient regulation for the traffic in opium, and recognizing the desirability of placing restrictions on the consumption of opium, have agreed to the present additional article.
(1) As regards the arrangements above referred to and proposed in clauses 1 and 2 of section III, of the Chefoo agreement, it is agreed that they shall be reserved for further consideration between the two Governments.
(2) In lieu of the arrangement respecting opium proposed in clause 3 of section III of the Chefoo agreement, it is agreed that foreign opium, when imported into China, shall be taken cognizance of by the Imperial maritime customs, and shall be deposited in bond, either in warehouses or receiving hulks which have been approved of by the customs, and that it shall not be removed thence until there shall have been paid to the customs the tariff duty of 30 taels per chest of 100 catties, and also a sum not exceeding 80 taels per like chest as lekin.
(3) It is agreed that the aforesaid import and lekin duties, having been paid, the owner shall be allowed to have the opium repacked in bond under the supervision of the customs and put into packages of such assorted sizes as he may select from such sizes as shall have been agreed upon by the customs authorities and British consul at the port of entry.
The customs shall then, if required, issue gratuitously to the owner a transit certificate for each such package, or one for any number of packages, at the option of the owner.
Such certificate shall free the opium to which it applies from the imposition of any further tax or duty whilst in transport in the interior, provided that the package [Page 188] has not been opened and that the customs seals, marks, and numbers on the packages have not been effaced or tampered with.
Such certificates shall have validity only in the hands of Chinese subjects, and shall not entitle foreigners to convey or accompany any opium in which they may be interested into the interior.
(4) It is agreed that the regulations under which the said certificates are to be issued shall be the same for all the ports, and that the form shall be as follows:
Opium transit certificate.
This is to certify that tariff and lekin duties at the rate of ______ taels per chest of 100 catties have been paid on the opium marked and numbered as under; and that in conformity with the additional article signed at London the 18th July, 1885, and appended to the agreement between Great Britain and China signed at Chefoo the 13th September, 1876, and approved by the Imperial decree, printed on the back hereof, the production of this certificate will exempt the opium to which it refers, wherever it may be found, from the imposition of any further tax or duty whatever, provided that the packages are unbroken and the customs seals, marks, and numbers have not been effaced or tampered with.
(No. __ packages.)
(Port of entry.)
(Signature of commissioner of customs.)
(5) The Chinese Government undertakes that when the package shall have been opened at the place of consumption the opium shall not be subjected to any tax or contribution, direct or indirect, other than or in excess of such tax or contribution as is or may hereafter be levied on native opium.
In the event of such tax or contribution being calculated ad valorem, the same rate, value for value, shall be assessed on foreign and native opium, and in ascertaining, for this purpose, the value of foreign opium, the amount paid on it for lekin at the port of entry shall be deducted from its market value.
(6) It is agreed that the present additional article shall be considered as forming part of the Chefoo agreement, and that it shall have the same force and validity as if it were inserted therein word for word.
It shall come into operation six months after its signature, provided the ratifications have then been exchanged, or if they have not, then on the date at which such exchange takes place.
(7) The arrangement respecting opium contained in the present additional articles shall remain binding for four years, after the expiration of which period either Government may, at any time, give twelve months notice of its desire to terminate it, and such notice being given, it shall terminate accordingly. It is, however, agreed that the Government of Great Britain shall have the right to terminate the same at any time should the transit certificate be found not to confer on the opium complete exemption from all taxation whatsoever whilst being carried from the port of entry to the place of consumption in the interior.
In the event of the termination of the present additional article the arrangement with regard to opium now in force under the regulations attached to the treaty of Tien-Tsin shall revive.
(8) The high contracting parties may, by common consent, adopt any modifications of the provisions of the present additional article which experience may show to be desirable.
(9) It is understood that the commission provided for in clause 7 of section III, of the Chefoo agreement, to inquire into the question of the prevention of smuggling into China from Hong-Kong, shall be appointed as soon as possible.
(10) The Chefoo agreement, together with, and as modified by, the present additional article, shall be ratified, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at London as soon as possible.
In witness whereof the undersigned, duly authorized thereto by their respective Governments, have signed the present additional article, and have affixed thereto their seals.
The Marquis of Salisbury to the Marquis Tseng.
Mr. Minister: I have the honor to address the present note to you in order to place on record the fact that, with the view of carrying out the proposal made by your Government, the following understanding has been come to between the Governments of Great Britain and China in regard to the additional article to the Chefoo agreement relative to opium, which has been signed this day.
It is understood that it shall be competent for Her Majesty’s Government at once to withdraw from this new arrangement, and to revert to the system of taxation for opium at present in operation in China, in case the Chinese Government shall fail to bring the other treaty powers to conform to the provisions of the said additional article.
It is further understood that in the event of the termination of the said additional article, the Chefoo agreement, with the exception of clause 3 of section III, and with the modifications stipulated in clause 1 of the said additional article, shall nevertheless remain in force.
I have the honor to request that you will acknowledge the receipt of this note, informing me that the understanding recorded in it is accented by the Chinese Government.
I have, etc.,
The Marquis Tseng to the Marquis of Salisbury.
My Lord: In reply to your lordship’s note of this date, I have the honor to state that the Imperial Government accept the following as the expression of the understanding which has been come to between the Governments of Great Britain and China in regard to the additional article to the Chefoo agreement relative to opium, which has been signed this day:
- It is understood that it shall be competent for Her Majesty’s Government at once to withdraw from this new arrangement, and to revert to the system of taxation for opium at present in operation in China, in case the Chinese Government shall fail to bring the other treaty powers to conform to the provisions of the said additional article.
- It is further understood that, in the event of the termination of the said additional article, the Chefoo agreement, with the exception of clause 3, of section III and with the modifications stipulated in clause 1 of the said additional article, shall nevertheless remain in force.
I have, etc.,