Minister Conger to the Secretary of State.

No. 1760.]

Sir: The Chinese Government has presented a new plan for the improvement and conservancy of the Whangpu River.

It has been sent to each of the foreign ministers, with request that it be considered by their governments, and authority obtained to sign an agreement to take the place of the second section of article [Page 118] 11 and annex 17 of the protocol of September 7, 1901. I inclose herewith a translation thereof.

This is not by any means as definite, nor does it furnish as complete a guaranty as the plan which I have heretofore verbally presented to the Chinese; but with some changes, I think, in view of the improbability of ever accomplishing anything under the provisions of annex 17 of the protocol, that it will be advisable to try to secure an agreement of the powers along the line now proposed by China and sign and put in force as soon as possible. A meeting of the diplomatic corps will be called within a very few days to discuss this matter, after which I will report by telegraph.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 1.]

Prince Ch’ing to Minister Conger.

In regard to the dredging of the Whangpu River bed and the voluntas assumption of all the expenses by China, my board some time since drew up and proposed a set of five regulations and sent the same in a dispatch to your excellency on June 9, as the records show. Now, since the various ministers have found one or two unsatisfactory clauses in the above-mentioned regulations, we, the prince and ministers, have again deliberated upon the matter, and have another plan to propose. We have drawn up twelve rules, a copy of which is sent herein to your excellency with the request that you will transmit it to your government, asking that this new plan be given due consideration and a reply sent, that the ministers of the various countries may meet with this board and decide upon a day for signing an agreement and suffixing these rules to the protocol for general observance.

A necessary dispatch.

[Inclosure 2.]

Revised regulations for the conservancy of the Whangpu.

The protocol calls for the establishment of a Whangpu conservancy board, assigns the duties to said board, and stipulates the funds it shall receive, etc. The Chinese Government now proposes a plan in which she herself assumes this work and the entire expense, and the following regulations have been agreed upon by the various powers:

The work of improving the channel of the Whangpu River and of removing the inner and outer sand bars at Wusung and the maintenance of such work shall be under the direction of the Shanghai customs taot’ai and the commissioner of customs. As to the river police and quarantine matters, they shall be dealt with according to the old regulations.
Within three months after the signing of this article China shall select an engineer, thoroughly experienced in river work, and if this selection shall be satisfactory to a majority of the foreign ministers he shall be appointed to take charge of the work; but even after the work is begun this engineer may be removed for cause, and the selection and appointment of his successor shall also be as provided above.
All contracts for the undertaking of river work or for the purchase of materials, machinery, etc., shall be offered to the various commercial companies to bid upon, and the most reasonable bid shall be accepted.
Every three months a clear statement of the accounts of the river work shall be made out and sent to the various consuls residing at Shanghai for their inspection.
As to the building of all floating or other wharves and the matter of river anchorage for hulks, permission in all such matters must be obtained from the Shanghai customs taot’ai and the commissioner of customs before anything is done.
The customs taot’ai and the commissioner of customs shall have power to grant or refuse places for anchorage, and they shall have power also to establish public anchorages.
In all matters of expense for river excavation the consent of the customs taot’ai and the commissioner of customs must be obtained before any money can be appropriated.
The customs taot’ai and the commissioner of customs shall have power to buy the land necessary to use in the improvement of the channel of the Whangpu River and the removal [Page 119] of the inner and outer sand bars at Wusung and in the maintenance of such work. If in the work of improving the channel the amount of land on the banks is increased by foreshore accretions, the customs taot’ai and the commissioner of customs shall have power to sell this land. However, as to the detailed plans regarding the buying and selling of land and the method of determining a just price, it would be better to wait until the work is begun, when the customs taot’ai and the commissioner of customs can consult with the various consuls and adopt further rules.
All expenses connected with the river work are to be borne by China, and it is not to be paid for, as formerly planned, by collecting a tax upon all landed property along the river and duties upon goods and shipping going to and fro.
China assigns the revenues collected from the opium duties in the province of Szechuen and the prefecture of Hsu Chou Fu in Kiangsu as security for the entire expense of the river work, which expenses are still to amount to 460,000 haikwan taels per year for a period of twenty years, as required by the protocol. At first the expenses will be greater, on account of the necessity of buying materials, machinery, etc., so China can borrow a certain amount and issue bonds, giving the above-mentioned opium duties as security. In repaying this borrowed amount (principal and interest) and in carrying on the work and in maintaining that already completed 460,000 haikwan taels a year must be expended.
If in the course of the work there appear any carelessness or instability in construction, the various consuls may point it out and require the engineer to take steps to rectify the matter. If even then it is not properly done, a conference may be called and the engineer dismissed and a new one selected and appointed again, as provided in regulation 2.
After consideration, adoption, and signing of this agreement, Article XI, section 2, and annex 17 of the protocol shall be annuled. But if China does not appropriate each year sufficient funds according to this new agreement, so that the needs of the work are obstructed thereby, the powers may then require the terms of the original protocol to be complied with.