No. 205.
Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Bayard.

No. 47.]

Sir: The question of the evacuation of Port Hamilton by Great Britain, or, as it is frequently called, its cession to China, has of late taken some definite form, and it is generally believed in China, Japan, and Corea that the present occupation of the island will shortly cease.

It has been frequently stated of late in the English press, with what authority I know not, that England would cede Port Hamilton to [Page 255] China if that power would guaranty its neutrality. * * * I gather from a recent number of a Japanese newspaper that the mere rumor of such a settlement has been deemed sufficient ground for the Japanese Government to order the immediate return to Japan of General Saigo, the minister of the navy, who is now on a voyage around the world.

This mode of settlement appears, therefore, impracticable, and a simple evacuation of the islands by Great Britain and their return to Corea, either directly or through China, is the solution which is naturally forced upon us as the only feasible one.

The Corean Government, which is well aware of the present state of the question, has not, however, any definite plan as to the course it will pursue in the event of the evacuation of Port Hamilton. It is its intention to send an official to reside there, but it feels that his presence, or even that of a body of Corean troops, can not guaranty the future inviolability of the islands, and that the reoccupation of the group by some power, in case it deems it necessary, is a step beyond its power to prevent.

* * * * * * *

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.