Mr. Denby to Mr. Blaine.

No. 1501.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 1495, March 22 last, wherein I inform you that I will forward to you a copy of an identic note sent by the foreign representatives to the Yamên on the likin questions that have arisen at Canton, I have now the honor to inclose a copy of said identic note.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Page 101]
[Inclosure with No. 1501.]

Mr. Denby to the Tsuug-li Yamên.

No. 1.]

Your Highness and Your Excellencies: The American consul at Canton has forwarded to me copies of two proclamations issued by the likin office at that place, offering rewards for the arrest of some Chinese in the service of foreign firms, for having made a fraudulent use of transit passes.

Copies of these proclamations which were issued January 26 and February 18, respectively, I have the honor to inclose. Furthermore, complaints have reached me from Canton that likin was levied on imports sent into the interior under transit passes as well as an extra lo-ti-shui after such imports had reached their destination; lastly, a few days ago I received a telegram from the American consul at Canton informing me that in consequence of the action of the likin officials and the refusal of the governor-general to listen to the demands for redress made by the foreign consuls, the trade under transit passes had entirely ceased and thus serious harm had been done to the general import trade. With reference to these facts your highness and your excellencies will allow me to draw your attention to Section iii, Article iv of the Chefoo convention, and rule 7 of the convention for the regulation of trade concluded between China and the United States in 1858, under which Chinese and foreigners alike are entitled to use transit passes for the transport of imports into the interior; it is therefore difficult to understand how Chinese could fraudulently use transit passes for imports to the use of which they are legally entitled.

The levy of likin on imports under transit passes on their way to the interior is forbidden by treaty. The action of the likin officials and the failure of the governor general to grant redress when appealed to by the consuls must therefore be considered as a serious infraction of the provisions of the treaties, and will entitle foreign merchants to claim heavy damages for the hindrances thrown into the way of the import trade in foreign goods.

In order to avoid such claims and the unpleasant negotiations to which they would give rise, I have the honor to request your highness and your excellencies to issue without delay telegraphic instructions to the governor-general of the two Kuangs to order the likin office to withdraw the two proclamations above mentioned, as likely to cause the impression as if the Chinese were forbidden the use of transit passes for imports, and to cease the levy of illegal taxes on imports protected by transit passes, either in transitu or after their arrival at their destination without making a difference on account of the nationality of the persons possessing and carrying such imports. I must further request your highness and your excellencies to instruct the governor-general by telegraph to render public by proclamation the orders thus issued to the likin office in order to allay the apprehension and incertitude caused by the latter’s action. I shall at the same time cause the American consul to forward to me an account of all the losses suffered already or incurred afterwards by American merchants through the action of the likin office, for the amount of which losses I must hold the Chinese Government responsible.

Charles Denby.