Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.
Peking, December 18, 1905.
Sir: Referring to legation dispatch No. 1843, of March 28, 1905, with regard to the danger to navigation between Shanghai and northern ports, resulting from the presence of floating mines, I have the [Page 301] honor to report that on March 30 last the senior consul in Shanghai, at the request of the local chamber of commerce, telegraphed to the doyen of the diplomatic corps asking that the Chinese Government be urged to take some steps to insure the safety of shipping. The doyen thereupon wrote to the foreign office, and in reply was informed that the superintendent of trade for the north has been advised of the matter, and had reported that he had sometime previously sent two vessels to discover and destroy floating mines, and that the same ships would again be dispatched to renew the search.
On October 16 the senior consul again wrote to the doyen of the diplomatic corps inclosing a letter addressed to him by the local municipal council calling attention to the continuance of this dangerous condition as shown by the recent destruction of a steamer through contact with a floating mine, and suggesting that fishermen should be incited by pecuniary rewards to locate and report the presence of these dangers to navigation.
A further representation was then made to the foreign office, in which the suggestion of the municipal council was embodied, and a note to this effect was sent to the senior consul.
The foreign office has sent a preliminary reply to this note, stating that its contents has again been communicated to the superintendent of trade for the north, with a view to suitable action.
As Tientsin and Newchwang are now closed for the winter, the amount of shipping traversing the Gulf of Chihli is very much diminished, and it is hoped that by the time these ports are again open in the spring the efforts of the Chinese Government, aided by natural causes, will have been successful in practically clearing the routes of trade of these very serious dangers to navigation.
I have, etc.,