No. 163.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard.

No. 541.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that some time last year an agent of the French Panama Canal Company came to Hong-Kong for the purpose of hiring Chinese coolies for the company’s works. The governor-general at Canton, to whom he submitted the question, while stating that he had no objection to raise against hiring Chinese laborers for the Panama works, said that the subject must first receive the approval of the Imperial Government.

The French agent, together with a member of the English firm of Jardiue & Matheson, to whom he had been recommended, then went to Tientsin and submitted the question to Li Hung Chang. This official declared against the scheme, saying that China had enough enterprises in which she could kill her people without being obliged to have recourse to the Panama Canal.

The question was then submitted by the French minister to the Tsung-li Yamên, but I learn that no understanding has been reached.

In the mean while I learn that a French Government transport has left Hanoy, in Tongking, with a load of coolies for Panama, and that others will shortly follow, it being found that by shipping them from French territory the sanction of the Peking Government is not quite so indispensable.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.