Mr. Choate to Mr. Hay.

No. 778.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that upon the receipt of your instructiona (No. 823) of January 29, which came to hand on the 10th instant, I sought an interview with His Majesty’s secretary of state for foreign affairs, and communicated to him the contents of the Chinese minister’s note to you of January 20.

He told me that at almost the same date a communication of substantially similar tenor was made to him by the Chinese minister here.

Lord Lansdowne expressed himself as emphatically in favor of the speedy withdrawal of the provisional government, and was in full accord with your own sentiments and views as set forth in your instruction; that it had always been the intent of his Government, as he believed of all the powers represented in China, to transfer the administration of Tientsin to the Chinese authorities as soon as practicable. He thought with you that the continued existence of the provisional government was not only unnecessary, but an undesirable interference with the control by the Chinese Government of affairs in that district with the administration of the laws and the collection of duties, and agreed that it would conflict with the last stipulation of the final protocol. In fact I could not discover any difference of views between you and Lord Lansdowne on the subject.

He further stated to me that his Government is now arranging to reduce its force in China from 6,000 to 2,000 (not inclusive of its legation guard at Peking), which would be distributed among the various localities mentioned in article 9 of the final protocol (including Tientsin, of course), for the purpose of keeping open communication between the capital and the sea.

He also informed me that China accompanied or followed its note to him, already mentioned, with the request that the date for the transfer of the administration in Tientsin from the provisional government to the Chinese authorities be fixed at April 1; that Germany proposed “about the 1st of June,” and that he himself with a view, as it were, to a compromise had suggested the 1st of May, and that these varying suggestions had been sent out to their representatives in China for them to agree upon the date, so that I do not see that the desire of China for the recovery of its normal authority in Tientsin can be much delayed beyond the date which China itself suggested.

I have, etc.,

Joseph H. Choate.
  1. See No. 976 to France, printed page 185.