Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.
Pekin, China, January 5, 1899.
Sir: I have the honor to confirm, on the overleaf, my telegram of the 22d ultimo and the Department’s reply of the following 23d.
Since July last the French have been trying to secure an extension of their settlement at Shanghai.
On August 24 Consul-General Goodnow wrote me that the French claimed in their settlement exclusive jurisdiction over persons and property of whatever nationality, and although this had never been conceded either by the English or Americans, and the question had not for many years come to an issue, yet as considerable American property was included in the proposed extension, the owners were quite anxious that their rights to trial under their own laws should be preserved.
I replied that the matter might be tested by an assertion of our treaty rights, etc., whenever a real case arose, but suggested that meanwhile he advise the property owners to place on file through him a protest, with the proper provincial officials, against being included in the extension, except upon some guaranteed reservation of their present rights of trial.
On November 19 Consul-General Goodnow wrote me that the French consul-general had agreed with him and the British consul-general “that he will not ask to have our land registered in his consulate; will not claim jurisdiction over persons or property of others than French; that no land or police regulations shall be adopted affecting the rights and privileges of our nationals without our consent.”
Relying on this I made no protest, but on the 22d ultimo the English minister informed me that his Government had instructed him to protest energetically against any French extension that included British-owned property without the consent of the British Government, and was anxious that I should do the same thing.
Believing, under the circumstances, that the objections of the English were mainly political, I wired as I did, so that if any communication on the subject had reached the Department from London, and it was thought wise or desirable to please the English in this matter, you could instruct me accordingly.
Since then I have received protests of the American landowners, merchants, and missionaries at Shanghai against having their property [Page 144] included in the extension, and Consul-General Goodnow wires me that recent actions look to the exclusive French control. Moved, therefore, by the wishes of these American property owners, and believing it better for all future trade at Shanghai that no single power should extend its settlement boundaries with exclusive jurisdiction, I have to-day, acting upon your telegraphic authority, filed with the tsungli yamen the protest a copy of which I inclose.
A telegram has just been received from Consul-General Goodnow that the taotai has been instructed to negotiate with the Germans, English, Japanese, Russians, French, and Americans an internal extension, but none to any individual power.
It would be a fortunate outcome if the French could be induced to join the so-called Anglo-American settlement, and thus insure the future of one international settlement under a combined jurisdiction, but France is not likely to give her consent.
I have, etc.,