No. 167.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard.

No. 553.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of my communication to the Yamên on the subject of the obstruction in the Canton River.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure in No. 553.]

Mr. Denby to the Foreign Office.

[To be sent before the 26th January in the form of an official “white” note.]

After consultation with my colleagues I have the honor to present to your highness and your excellencies the following additional observations relative to the removal of the Shalu barrier at Canton and the measures proposed by the Chinese Government to alleviate the injury caused to foreign commerce by the artificial obstructions erected in the river by the provincial authorities.

It is one of the principles of international law which during the last half century has had more than one practical application that, while the right of a government to take such measures for the defense of its territory as it may consider necessary even to the detriment of alien interests may not be questioned, such government is expected, the cause for the extraordinary measures adopted by it once having disappeared, to replace matters as they were before the necessity for such measures arose, and especially to remove immediately any obstructions in the channels of commerce to free intercourse which may have been erected for purposes of defense.

This rule applies equally to the state of things in the Canton River.

[Page 251]

Canton has been opened by treaty to foreign trade. Large sums have been spent there by foreign merchants for the erection of dwelling houses and godowns, and it is, therefore, only just and equitable that these obstructions which have been erected in the river of Canton for purposes of defense should be removed now that the necessity for them has disappeared.

The proposition of the provincial authorities to station a customs assistant of the fourth class at Whampoa, which your highness and your excellencies have seen fit to transmit to me, would have been very well if it had been put into force for a short time before the removal of the barrier could have been undertaken, but it can not be thought of as an equivalent for the losses and delays which of reign shipping has to suffer in the Canton River in consequence of the non-removal of the obstructions placed in it.

I can therefore only most earnestly request your highness and your excellencies to forward to the provincial authorities at Canton with as little delay as possible the necessary instructions for the removal of the barrier at Shalu.

If, as it might seem from a passage in the last communication of your highness and your excellencies to me on this subject, that an erroneous impression has been produced upon the mind of His Majesty the Emperor on this subject by an incomplete or one-sided report from the provincial authorities, I trust that the impression will be removed by your highness and your excellencies placing before the Emperor not only the facts of the case as I have had the honor to place them before you, but also the political consequences which are likely to result in future from a non-compliance with a generally recognized international rule as well as from a violation of treaty stipulations by which, with the express sanction of His Majesty the Emperor, Canton has been opened to foreign trade and navigation and has to remain so. Your highness and your excellencies will allow me at the same time to point out to them that the necessity of appealing to His Majesty the Emperor for reconsideration of this subject might have been spared to the Tsung-li Yamêm, if, as it is the case everywhere else, questions having an international bearing were not decided upon a report from the provincial authorities alone, without having been first submitted to the Tsung-li Yamên, to whom the foreign ministers have to look as the representatives of the Chinese Government in its international relations.

I avail, etc.,

Charles Denby.