Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.

No. 172.]

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.,

W. W. Rockhill.
[Inclosure 1—Telegram.]

Consul-General Knappe to the German Minister.

No. 22. Chamber of commerce brings to the notice of the doyen in Peking the danger to navigation between Shanghai and the north owing to the number of mechanical floating mines. The chamber requests to urge the Chinese Government to at once take steps to insure the safety of not only the shipping, but of the lives of those who are engaged in the northern traffic.

[Inclosure 2—Translation.]

The foreign office to the dean of the diplomatic corps.

We have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note informing us that you had received a telegram from the consular body at Shanghai to the effect that the chamber of commerce of that city had called attention to the floating mines in the Yellow Sea between Shanghai and the ports in north China, and to the danger to shipping caused thereby; they request, therefore, that measures be taken to protect navigation and prevent loss of life.

Upon receipt of your excellency’s note this board telegraphed at once to the superintendent of trade for the north, directing him to order that an investigation be made immediately and that the necessary measures be taken. We have now received a reply from him in which he states that having been previously [Page 302] informed of the floating mines in the Gulf of Pechili, he had already dispatched the vessels Haichien and Feiying to search for and destroy them, but that he would repeat the orders to the same vessels, and direct that they make a careful search.

It becomes our duty to send this note to your excellency for your information, and we take the opportunity to wish your excellency the compliments of the season.

[Inclosure 3.]

Chairman Andersch to the German consul-general.

Sir: There is reason to believe that the track of steamers between Shanghai and the northern ports is studded with explosive mines, and it is the council’s opinion that much might be done toward their clearance if representations were made in the proper quarter.

The recent disaster which overtook the steamship Isieh-ho on the 30th ultimo, involving considerable loss of life, is a matter which can not be sufficiently deplored, and I have the honor to suggest, for the consideration of the consular body, the advisability of making representations to the Chinese Government in Peking with a view to the riddance from the seas of this dangerous outcome of the war.

It has been suggested that if pecuniary rewards were offered to the fishermen on the coast who located and were instrumental in conveying information as to the position of floating mines to certain specified ports, arrangements might be made between the Chinese and foreign governments to hold vessels of war in readiness to proceed to the spot indicated with a view to their destruction. If the rewards were sufficiently large, the fishermen would doubtless combine and arrange that one of their number should stand by the mine until assistance arrived.

I have, etc.,

J. Andersch, Chairman.
[Inclosure 4—Translation.]

The German minister to the Prince of Ch’ing.

Your Imperial Highness: On a previous occasion I had the honor to address your imperial highness begging you to instigate effective measures on the part of the Chinese Government to remove the terrible danger to international navigation caused by the presence of floating mines in the waters adjacent to the coast of China. Another fine vessel and many lives have recently been lost, falling victims to the scourge.

The senior consul in Shanghai has again had recourse to our interposition, pointing out the menace which these mines offer to navigation between Shanghai and the ports of north China.

My honorable colleagues have joined me in this request. I have, therefore, the honor, in my capacity as doyen of the diplomatic corps, to invite the attention of your imperial highness to the fact that the measures taken, up to the present time, to destroy the mines floating along the coast of China have been insufficient, and that it appears to be most urgent that more effective steps should be ordered.

The business people of Shanghai who are concerned have suggested the idea of interesting the fishermen in the destruction of mines by giving bounties for their discovery. If these bounties were sufficient they might organize small flotillas to search for mines, on the discovery of which some of the boats could remain in the vicinity of the mine while others went to call for the assistance of special vessels or war ships.

I avail, etc.,

A. v. Mumm.
[Page 303]
[Inclosure 5.]

The Prince of Ch’ing to the German minister, clean of the diplomatic corps.

On the 15th of the tenth moon, XXXI year, Kuanghsü (November 11, 1905), I had the honor to receive a dispatch from your excellency, saying that you had already requested my Government to adopt measures for the removal of mines floating on the surface of the sea, and that now another large vessel had fallen a victim to this evil, and that therefore the senior consul at Shanghai had called attention to the inadequacy of the measures so far taken for removing the danger from these floating mines in the sea between Shanghai and the northern ports, and that it might be well perhaps to interest the fishermen in the matter of their removal and thus get rid of the danger.

As to this matter, in the third moon of the present year I received a note from your excellency with regard to measures for searching for the floating mines, and my board thereupon telegraphed to the superintendent of trade for the north, and sent a reply to your excellency, as the records will show.

Later I received a communication from the superintendent of trade for the north, saying that he had sent the Hai-ch’en and other vessels to make search, and they had secured three mines.

On the receipt of your excellency’s present dispatch I have sent instructions to the superintendents of trade for the south and the north to deal with the matter, and for the present I send this reply, as in duty bound, for your excellency’s information.

A necessary dispatch.