Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 1680.]

Sir: Continuing the subject-matter of my No. 1639 of June 22 last, I have now the honor to confirm our recent telegraphic correspondence concerning the Whangpu conservancy.

I also acknowledge receipt by our last mail of Department’s instruction No. 814, of June 29, and inclose copies of my recent correspondence with His Imperial Highness Prince Ch’ing.

I have in private conference with my British and German colleagues clearly explained your position, and shall do so with others after the Chinese make a definite proposal, or, opportunely, before.

The British and German ministers personally agree with me and are consulting their governments.

The Chinese Government can, if it desires, furnish the funds and do this work promptly and satisfactorily, but it must be done under competent foreign supervision. I am not certain, however, that it is really desirous to have the work done, but am inclined to believe that this last proposal is only made to avoid having the work done under the arrangement provided for in the final protocol, which has always been very objectionable to the Chinese Government.

If it can be delayed by further deliberate negotiations, I apprehend they will be quite pleased.

In my judgment the only way to secure the early commencement of the work, or even to make the Chinese hasten in their efforts to conclude negotiations upon their new proposal, is to make them understand that the powers are in earnest in their insistence that the work shall be carried out in strict accordance with the provisions of the protocol, and that if the Chinese Government will not take hold, as by its terms they have promised, then the powers will at once organize the commission and proceed to its execution without it. Rather than this China will do anything possible.

However, the agreement of the powers is the first essential, and I am sure this can be much more easily secured directly by the home governments than by their representatives here.

Many of the ministers are at present away from the city for the summer, but will probably have returned by the time the Chinese are ready to present the full programme and plan demanded.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Ch’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: I have the honor to state that I have received telegraphic instructions from the Department of State directing me to make some inquiries from your imperial highness in regard to China’s proposals concerning the Whangpu conservancy matter. My Government would like to know definitely just what guaranties of early action and satisfactory conclusion of the [Page 194]work China will give in the event of the other powers being willing to accept the new proposals recently made by the Chinese Government.

I have the honor, therefore, to request your imperial highness to send me a definite and detailed reply in regard to the above-mentioned guaranties, that I may transmit the report to my Government for their consideration without delay. The Whangpu conservancy matter is a question of the highest importance, and I am constrained once more to urge the immediate attention of your imperial highness to the consideration of this question, the final settlement of which is of so much consequence and has been so long delayed.

Trusting that I will receive an early reply, I avail, etc,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Ch’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: On June 27 last, by direction of my Government, I had the honor to address a note to your imperial highness inquiring what guaranties of early action and satifactory conclusion of the work China would give in case the signatory powers agreed to accept the new proposals of the Chinese Government concerning the Whangpu conservancy matter. To this I have as yet received no reply.

In order that I may inform my Government, I regret that I am obliged to again ask your imperial highness for the courtesy of an early reply.

I also avail, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 3.]

Prince Ch’ing to Mr. Conger.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note, saying that by direction of your Government you had the honor to inquire (on June 27 of this year) what guaranties of early action and satisfactory conclusion of the work China would give in case the signatory powers agreed to accept the new proposals of the Chinese Government concerning the Whangpu conservancy matter. In order that you might inform your Government, your excellency requested the courtesy of an early reply.

I have the honor to state that upon receipt of the above my board at once communicated with the board of revenue, asking them to make a thorough and satisfactory reply as soon as possible. This is on record. Upon receipt of your excellency’s second letter, pressing the matter, my board again wrote to the board of revenue urging them to action, and have received a reply from that board as follows:

“In improving the Whangpu River the yearly expenses should be supplied as they come due by China herself. Of these expenses the province of Chiang-nan (Annul and Kiangsu) will raise 230,000 taels and the remaining 230,000 taels will be supplied in full by this board. This is without doubt an important work, and we trust you will transmit this our report to the United States minister.”

It appears, then, that China herself will assume the expenses of improving the Whangpu river, these expenses amounting to 460,000 taels a year, and the board of revenue has guaranteed to be responsible for appropriating the funds. If the signatory powers agree to the plan as proposed by this board this matter will be brought to an early completion.

It becomes my duty, therefore, to make this reply to your excellency’s letter, and I trust you will transmit the information to the Department of State. At the same time avail, etc.

Cards inclosed.

[Page 195]
[Inclosure 4.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Ch’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your highness’s note of the 31st ultimo in response to my two notes asking what guaranties of early action and satisfactory conclusion of the work China would give in case the signatory powers would agree to accept the new proposals of the Chinese Govenment concerning the Whangpu conservancy matter.

It is to be regretted that that communication does not by any means reply to the inquiry of my Government made in my notes. Your highness’s statement is practically that the Provinces of Anhui and Kiangsu and the board of revenue will furnish the necessary funds. What my Government wants to know, and what the other governments will unquestionably require, is that ample and sufficient guaranty of some kind shall be given that will, under any and all circumstances, insure the actual furnishing of the money promised, and its expenditure annually upon the work. This can not be considered an unreasonable condition, in view of the fact that nearly four years ago China agreed in the final protocol to an excellent plan for this work, but which, instead of carrying out, she has persistently obstsructed by her failure to appoint her member of the commission. I must therefore again ask your imperial highness to kindly reply to my Government’s inquiry, and state specifically what guaranty the Chinese Government will furnish to the powers that these funds as promised will be forthcoming. If such satisfactory guaranty can be furnished my Government will not object to the new proposals. Otherwise it will insist that the plain agreement of the protocol be promptly and faithfuly executed.

I take, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 5.]

The Foreign Office to Mr. Cooper.

We have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on the 12th instant of your excellency’s reply, saying that it was to be regretted that our communication did not clearly reply to the inquiry repeatedly made in your excellency’s notes regarding the Whangpu conservancy scheme, which was: “If the various powers should consent to the plan proposed by China, what guaranty will China give that the work will be performed?” Your excellency further stated that our reply was nothing more than that the Provinces of the Kiangnan and the board of revenue would supply the necessary funds; and that what your Government wanted to know, and what the other governments would certainly require was that some reliable guaranty should be given that under any circumstances whatever, the necessary funds would certainly each year be promptly appropriated; that you had again to request that a speedy reply be made to this inquiry; that the meaning of your Government’s inquiry was that a definite statement should be made as to what surety would be given that each year the funds would be certainly appropriated; that, if such satisfactory guaranty could be given, your Government could not but consent to the new plan proposed, but that otherwise it would insist that the matter be dealt with according to the original terms of the protocol.

Upon the receipt of your excellency’s note our board at once communicated its contents to the ministers of the board of revenue, and discussed the matter with them very thoroughly. The annual amount to be furnished for the proposed improvement of the Whangpu is 460,000 taels, all of which China agrees to promptly appropriate year by year. Now, we find that the annual revenues from opium in the province of Szechuen amounts in round numbers to 400,000 taels, and that revenue from opium in the prefecture of Hsü-chou, in Kiang-su Province, amounts in round numbers to 200,000 taels per annum, making together a total in excess and never less than the total amount required for the annual expenditure upon the improvement of the Whangpu, which is 460,000 taels, and we have the honor, in reply to your excellency’s inquiry, to submit these two items of opium revenue as the guaranty asked. We hope you will [Page 196]communicate this to your honorable Government, and hope we may have a speedy reply, for which we shall be grateful.

We avail, etc.

Cards inclosed.

[Inclosure 6.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Ch’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: In reply to your imperial highness’s note of the 5th instant stating that the Chinese Government would give as a guaranty for the faithful carrying out of the proposed Whangpu conservancy scheme certain opium revenues, I have the honor to say that I at once telegraphed the substance of your highness’s note to my Government and have received a reply to the effect that, while it is not willing to deny the sufficiency of the revenue proposed as a guaranty, yet it thinks that in view of the enormity of the enterprise, the great cost of organizing the work, and of the necessary plant and the long continuance of the work, that some kind of satisfactory bond measure should be arranged.

At any rate, before my Government can consider any abrogation of the provisions of the final protocol, a full programme of the plans for work and maintenance must be submitted.

If, then, China is really desirous of promptly taking up this work and hastening it to a conclusion, I suggest that she forthwith present to the representatives of the powers a full and detailed plan which, secured by the revenues mentioned and supported by some kind of bond measure, will insure the speedy and satisfactory carrying out of the important work and its permanent maintenance in good condition.

If this should be done at once, my Government will not oppose it, and I shall be glad personally to do whatever I properly may for its furtherance.

It should be clearly understood, however, that, whereas the United States is willing to waive temporarily its right to insist on China complying with the terms agreed to by her in Article VI of the final protocol concerning the improvement of the course of the Whangpu River, it will do so only so long as the Chinese Government promptly and satisfactorily discharges the new obligations which it now wishes to assume. Should it become, evident at a later date that the conservancy work is not being done promptly, or that a disposition is evidenced not to carry out the work to the satisfaction of all interests concerned, the United States will insist upon full and strict compliance with the terms of the original agreement.

I avail, etc.,

E. H. Conger.