Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.

No. 147.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to you herewith in translation copy of an imperial rescript sanctioning the opening of Hai Chou in the Province of Kiang-su to international trade.

* * * * * * *

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.

Imperial rescript sanctioning the opening of Hai Chou, Kiang-su, to international trade.

[Peking Gazette, November 3, 1905.]

The board of foreign affairs, in compliance with an imperial decree, directing it to take the matter herein referred to into consideration and report thereon, reverently submits this memorial, praying for it the gracious approval of your imperial majesties.

On the 24th of the eighth moon of the thirty-first year of Kuanghsü (September 22, 1905), we received from the grand council a copy of a memorial, submitted by the acting viceroy of the Two Kiang and others, stating that the commerce of Hai Chou was gradually increasing and proposing that it be opened as a port of international trade by China herself, and a copy of a petition from the gentry and merchants of Hai Chou requesting that small steamers might be allowed to visit the port. The memorial was indorsed by the imperial pencil as follows: “Let the board of foreign affairs and the board of revenue consult about the matter and report to us. Let the petition also be forwarded to them. Respect this. Reverently comply.”

On the receipt of the same our board made investigations and found that the original memorial made the following statements:

“Hai Chou in Kiangsu is an independent department, situated upon the seacoast near the border of Shantung Province. The people are industrious and orderly and commonly follow the pursuit of agriculture. During the past few years certain of the gentry, among them Shen Yün-p’ei, a second-class compiler of the Han-lin academy, and a taot’ai, Hsü T’ing-lin, established three industrial companies, one for the manufacture of bean oil, one for making flour, and an agricultural and cattle-raising company. Production has gradually increased and the people are somewhat better acquainted with modern methods than formerly. It is proposed to have a careful return made of the waste lands, and the establishment of a chamber of commerce is being urged, all of which will be beneficial. Agricultural and commercial enterprises ought to be extended and prosecuted with energy. These members of the gentry also came to my capital (Nanking) and in a personal interview said that Lin-hung-k’ou in [Page 165] Hal Chou has been a port for seagoing junks, and that Ch’ing-k’ou, in Kung-yü district (also Written Kan-yü) and in the district of Hai Chou was also a place visited by junks and had grown into a great trading place; that during the past few years production had steadily increased, but that as there were no steamers the trade could not be extended, and that they requested that a port of international trade might be established, which would be beneficial both to Chinese and foreign trade, and would be, moreover, not wanting in benefit to the customs revenue. In order to test the public opinion, I repeatedly sent deputies to make personal inquiries, who found the majority to be of the opinion just set forth. I therefore wrote to Sir Robert Hart, the inspector-general of customs, to consult with him about the matter, and he sent the coast inspector and harbor master, Tyler, to consult with the officials and gentry and make an inspection. Afterwards he received a report from Tyler, saying Lin-hung-k’ou would be the most suitable place for the establishment of a port of international trade; that for several tens of li (a li=one-third of a mile) ships drawing 8 feet of water could anchor; that at Ching-k’ou, some tens of li north of Lin-hung-k’ou, the water was rather shallower and that it ought to be made a branch customs station, and he mentioned the names of several other places on the river near Ch’ing-k’ou which might also be opened and all placed under Lin-hung-k’ou, all of which would be beneficial to the river trade. He estimated the annual exports of native products at 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 taels. The value of the foreign goods that would be imported he found it difficult to estimate beforehand.

“Inasmuch as the mud flats at the said place are very broad, he stated that it would be necessary to build wharves godowns, and cargo boats, and construct roads, the funds for which would have to be provided for. Some ten-odd li outside the harbor there are several islands where ships can anchor, but there is no shelter from the violence of the winds, and if it were thought desirable to construct a breakwater, the expense would be very heavy. He considered that on the whole it would be better to use only ships of shallow draft for transportation of goods.

“When the gentry were received in a personal interview, they presented a plan by way of explanation, and their statements agreed with the reports just quoted. Since the views of all are thus agreed, it seems right to ask that Lin-hung-k’ou in the department of Hai Chou be opened by China herself as a port of international trade, and that Ch’ing-k’ou and the other places referred to be made branch stations for the collection of customs dues under the jurisdiction of the Hai Chou customs. I have therefore to request that instructions be issued to the board of foreign affairs and the board of revenue to consider the advisability of opening the port in question. As to the sand bars, shallows in the channel, and the places for the anchorage of ships, it will still be necessary to send a coast inspector to make a survey (and mark them). The work of building wharves, etc., should wait until after this survey shall have been completed, when a deputy may be appointed to make inspection and an estimate. As to whether or not the customs station shall be called the Hai Chou customs, the matter should be referred to the board of foreign affairs for consideration and report. The petition of the gentry states that Hai Chou is about midway between Shanghai and Kiaochow, and must therefore be passed by ships going to and fro between these places. As to the repeated requests of the gentry of the said department that they be permitted to charter small steamers to transport their goods out and in, I find that it is in accord with the island waterways regulations and ought to be granted. The said gentry further state that the funds needed by the customs established at the various new ports opened within the past few years have been provided for by the local customs, repayment being maple whenever the customs receipts had become sufficient for the purpose, and it is requested, therefore, that as the receipts from dues on the chartered vessels in the proposed experiment can not be very large they be kept for the construction of wharves, etc., and that should this sum prove, in the future to be insufficient the gentry and merchants are willing themselves to raise the money by an interest-bearing loan, which can be paid off later by the government, by which plan it is hoped the works may be earlier brought to completion.

“I find these proposals all in harmony with the regulations heretofore in force, and as soon as the boards mentioned shall have made their joint report, memorialized and issued their instructions, they may be carried out.” (End of viceroy’s report.)

We, your ministers, humbly represent that the condition of commercial affairs daily becomes more encouraging, and that in every province there are unopened trade centers, which the government is urgently requested to open as ports of international trade. Hai Chou is an important seaport, and its situation and condition are such as to justify its being opened. During the past few years the export of native produce has steadily increased, and it seems reasonable, therefore, to arrange the matter so as to increase trade and protect our own interests and authority. The proposal of the said viceroy and others that Lin-hung-k’ao, in Hai Chou department, be opened as a port of international trade by China herself originated in a request of the gentry and merchants of the place, and since the deputy sent to make investigation makes report in agreement with their statements it becomes our duty to ask that permission be given to deal with the matter as proposed. The customs station should be called the Hai Chou customs. The viceroy and other officials concerned [Page 166] should inquire into the method employed in opening other ports that have been Opened by China on her own initiative and propose satisfactory regulations in accordance therewith and proceed to open the port. Ching-k’ou, in the district of Kung-yü, and the other ports referred to should be made branch stations of the customs as proposed. But as the customs receipts at these branch stations may not be very large in undertaking such works as dredging and building breakwaters, which require a large expenditure of money, care should be taken to discriminate between those which are urgently needed and those which can wait until a later time, lest the income should not be equal to the outlay. As to the matter of permitting the use of steamers, this is a natural corollary to the opening of the port. Since the said place is to be opened as a port of international trade, the request of the gentry and merchants of the place that they may be permitted to charter vessels to ship goods should be granted on the understanding that they shall comply with the inland waterways regulations, and these vessels thus be allowed to ply between port and port, as well as go into the interior.

As to the request of the said gentry and merchants that the customs receipts that may be collected from the use of these small chartered vessels may be retained to be used in the construction of wharves, etc., and their statement that they are willing to raise a loan to be repaid later by the government, we find that in the case of the opening of other ports and the establishment of customs thereat the funds for the required expenditure have been furnished by the province in which the port is situated and repaid by the local customs in installments as the receipts may permit, as the records will show. In the present proposal that the receipts from duties in connection with the use of the small steamers shall be used in the construction of necessary public works, the matter is one which concerns the local customs, which will be but using its own receipts for its own necessary expenditures. As to the raising of loan by the gentry and merchants, that matter concerns the provincial administration, which must provide for the funds. These requests ought to be granted, but as the very purpose in granting permission to use steamers and in opening port is to protect our own interests and authority it is not permitted to borrow or use any foreign money, which might lead to troublesome complications. The viceroy and other officers concerned ought, first of all, to report to the boards interested the plan adopted as to raising the interest bearing loan by the gentry and merchants and the method proposed for repayment, that record may be made of the same.

This memorial reporting upon the opening of Hai Chou as a port of international trade and the use of small steamers is respectfully submitted to the inspection of your imperial majesties, with a prayer for instruction.

This report has been prepared by the board of foreign affairs after consultation with the board of revenue, which unites in its presentation.