Mr. Olney to Mr. Denby.
Washington, December 19, 1896.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 2632, of November 5, 1896, concerning American enterprises in China, and to say that, while agreeing with you that you should not assume directly or impliedly in the name of this Government any responsibility for, or guaranty of, any American commercial or industrial enterprise trying to establish, itself in China, the Department thinks that you should use your personal and official influence and lend all proper countenance to secure to reputable representatives of such concerns the same facilities for submitting proposals, tendering bids, or obtaining-contracts as are enjoyed by any other foreign commercial enterprise in the country. It is not practicable to strictly define your duties in this connection, nor is it desirable that any instructions which may have been given should be too literally followed. Your own judgment and experience, the standing of the firms who seek your assistance and of their agents, must all be given due weight and your action shaped accordingly. Broadly speaking, you should employ all proper methods for the extension of American commercial interests in China, while refraining from advocating the projects of any one firm to the exclusion of others.
In this connection it is proper to remark that the Department does not consider it any part of your duty, or of that of the staff of your legation, to devote so much time and labor as you state they do to writing and translating papers for Americans desirous of submitting them to the Chinese Government.
The Department trusts that you will keep it thoroughly advised as to all American enterprises of which you may hear in China, as, with the exception of the dispatch under acknowledgment, it has only received one—No. 2534, of May 25 of this year—bearing upon this most interesting and important subject, and it is not possible to fully understand the scope of the “great plans” of the Americans which you state are now on the eve of becoming assured. The Department would like to know something more of the plans and the individuals connected therewith, if it is practicable for you to send them.
I am, etc.,