Mr. Denby to Mr. Gresham.
Peking, July 1, 1893. (Received August 19.)
Sir: More than a year ago Sir Robert Hart proposed to the Imperial Government the establishment of a national Chinese postal service. It is now rumored that the Throne has consented to the inauguration of the scheme.
As far as I can learn, it is proposed to place a foreign postal superintendent at the capital city of each province. A European postmaster will be stationed at each prefectural city, with a staff of Chinese who speak English. The district cities and unwalled towns will be in charge of Chinese only.
It is supposed that the number of Europeans connected with the postal service will be about 600.
The new post-offices will be joined with the telegraph offices. The courier service, which has hitherto only carried Government dispatches, will be used in the new scheme, but under European control. It will carry memorials to the throne from high provincial officials and all official correspondence. The private Chinese postal agencies, which are very numerous, will be abolished, but their personnel will be employed in the new service.
It will be some years before this system will be in use all over China. Its application will first be made at the open ports.
It goes without saying that the system will be of great benefit to all the people. Rates under the system of private carriage are very high. From Peking to Shanghai costs per letter from 10 to 15 cents; from Peking to Canton 20 to 25 cents; from Peking to Yunnan, 50 cents. In addition to postage “cumskaw” or wine money is expected, which amounts to as much more.
To the post-office scheme will be added the carriage of parcels.
I have, etc.,