No. 206.
Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Bayard .

No. 50.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that yesterday Mr. Watters, Her Britannic Majesty’s acting consul-general at Seoul, handed to the president of the foreign office a dispatch from Sir John Walsham, Her Britannic Majesty’s minister at Peking, the substance of which is as follows:”In a former dispatch from this legation it was stated that annexation was not (as your excellency had implied) intended when a naval force was stationed at Port Hamilton, but that the action of Her Britannic Majesty’s Government was simply to guard these islands when they were exposed to seizure at a critical time. It was also stated that when the necessity for keeping guard should have passed the temporary occupation would cease. This time would appear to have been reached, and the British forces will be withdrawn from the islands. To effect this, an agreement has been made by which the Government of China guaranties the security of the islands from seizure by any other power. The British forces will be withdrawn in the spring, and when the evacuation takes place your excellency will be informed of it by the admiral commanding our naval forces, through the consul-general at Seoul. It was my intention,” adds Sir John, “to visit Corea a short time ago, to inform you of these facts in person, but circumstances having prevented it, I have addressed you this communication.”

I have been informed from another source that the Chinese Government has offered Corea three of its ships of war, manned, of course, with Chinese crews, to assist in protecting these islands. The Corean Government has also appointed an official to reside on the islands, which will also be garrisoned with troops.

* * * * * * *

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.