Chargé Coolidge to the Secretary of State.

No. 1792.]

Sir: Continuing the subject-matter of legation dispatch No. 1760 of December 8, with which was transmitted a new plan, presented by the Chinese Government, for the improvement and conservancy of the Whangpu River, I have the honor to report that at a meeting of the diplomatic corps, held on December 14, the representatives of the powers, signatories of the final protocol, requested the American, German, British, and French ministers to collaborate in the task of examining these proposals of the Chinese Government and reporting on them to their colleagues, in the hope that some general agreement might be reached. As the result of these deliberations, a counter-project was presented which all the representatives concerned have agreed to refer to their respective governments, and which I have the honor to inclose herewith.a

It follows so closely the lines of the Chinese proposal that it is likely to prove wholly acceptable to that government. The alterations and additions are in the direction of greater scope or more exactness of definition. The principal changes are as follows:

In Article II, “foreign ministers” is changed to “representatives of the powers who signed the protocol.” In Article VIII a definite mode of procedure is established for acquiring land outside the foreign settlements through expropriation and for the disposal of land formed by reclamation from the river. In Article X there is a clause at the end in the interest of greater security, and this is also the case in Article XI.

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It was agreed among the representatives of the powers concerned that when forwarding this counter-project for the approval of their governments they would request that telegraphic instructions be sent to them in reply.

It seems to me that there is now a favorable opportunity for finally settling this much vexed question and that the representatives of the powers concerned and the Chinese Government are practically in accord. The great danger is that some of the governments, though agreeing in principle, will make suggestions of minor changes to be proposed, though not necessarily to be insisted upon. If one power begins, the others will follow, the present opportunity will be lost, and another long delay will probably ensue; for no work is likely to be done under the existing article, for reasons already reported.

I therefore respectfully urge that, if the government is willing to accept this project, I may be instructed in this sense, without proposing modifications which might indirectly lead to the failure of the present negotiations.

I have, etc.,

John Gardner Coolidge.
  1. Not printed. See inclosure to No. 122, p. 122.