Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.
Peking, China, August 20, 1904.
Sir: Concerning the Whangpu conservancy scheme, I have the honor to report that on the 15th instant I received an additional note from the foreign office, of which I inclose a copy.
This note is by no means satisfactory, and is very far from complying with the suggestions of my note of the 11th instant.
Believing a personal conference better than a continuance of correspondence just now, and as Prince Ch’ing is at present out of the city, I sent Mr. Williams on yesterday to the foreign office to explain more fully to the ministers our position, and make them understand, if possible, just what the Chinese Government must do in order to [Page 197]secure consideration of their proposed new scheme. I gave him, as the basis for his conversation, the memorandum, a copy of which is inclosed, telling him to inform them that I spoke only for myself, and not for my colleagues, and that while I did not pretend to give them a plan in detail, yet they must clearly understand that a plan less comprehensive than the one outlined in the memorandum would not be entertained by my Government, nor, I believed, by the others; that, therefore, it was useless to continue the correspondence unless China was prepared to make to the powers some such comprehensive and detailed proposition as indicated.
Mr. Williams reports a satisfactory conference with their excellencies Na-t’ung and Lien-fang, who readily indorsed all the points in the memorandum except that of making a loan. Mr. Williams told them that that was the most essential of all, as that appeared to be the only way to get the very large amount that must be at once available for the purchase of plant and machinery, and for the early organization of the work and that the 460,000 taels mentioned in the protocol was orignally intended as the annual sum necessary for the interest and amortization of a loan which must be made.
They finally agreed that a loan would be necessary unless some equally efficient plan could be devised for realizing the large sum necessary to begin with.
They said, however, that it would be necessary to correspond with the viceroy at Nanking, which they would do at once They were also given to understand that the proposed plan must come to the representatives of the powers as their own proposition, and not one supplied by me.
The British minister has received instructions to cooperate in support of this plan and he will advise the Chinese along the same line.
If the Chinese Government does propose a plan fully embodying the suggestions of the British minister and myself, I apprehend our colleagues can be induced to accept it, but unless the Chinese do this at an early date I see no other feasible course except that indicated in my No. 1680 of the 12th instant.
I have, etc.,