File No. 16576/–2.

Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.

No. 1022.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copy of a dispatch, together with its inclosure, from the American consul at Nanking, on the subject of two proposed amendments to the regulations for the international settlement of Wuhu, the first reserving to foreign merchants exclusively the land within the settlements, the second restricting the right of foreign owners of subletting to Chinese houses in the settlements, which practice threatens to become, as it has long been at Shanghai, a serious inconvenience to the requirements of legitimate foreign trade.

The note from the British consul at Wuhu to Mr. McNally, which forms the inclosure to his dispatch, sets forth so fully and clearly the importance of the amendments that I need not dilate on it further.

I think that our acceptance of these amendments, if they can be agreed to, is very desirable considering the rights our missionaries have under the provisions of our treaties for the purchase of land outside settlement limits. I have informed our consul at Nanking that I have submitted the question to you and that he should await your instructions before replying to the British consul at Wuhu.

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.

Consul McNally to Minister Rockhill.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a communication from the British consul at Wuhu with regard to the general foreign settlement at that port.

I delayed presenting the matter to the legation until I could make a personal investigation of the limitations of the settlement, and went to Wuhu for that purpose.

The settlement area is very small, and should missionaries enter thereon with hospitals or educational institutions merchants would have but little territory for business purposes. The missionaries there have already considerable property just outside the settlement environments and could enlarge the same at [Page 122] any time under treaty in the direction inland, while the merchants, steamboat lines, and oil companies are confined to the settlement boundaries.

I respectfully present the matter to the legation for your consideration and await your instructions before replying to the communication above referred to beyond a formal acknowledgment.

I have, etc.,

J. C. McNally.

The British Consul to Consul McNally.

Sir and Dear Colleague: As you are doubtless aware, the taotai has recently refused applications from missionaries to purchase land in the general foreign settlement at this port on the ground that the settlement is expressly reserved for foreign merchants. It appears to me that, considering the limited area of the settlement and the comparative facility with which missionaries can purchase land outside, in the interests of foreign merchants the taotai should be supported in this reading of the regulations.

There is another point in connection with the settlement regulations to which I would direct your attention. Only foreign merchants can own land, but there is apparently nothing in the regulations to prevent the subletting of lots to Chinese, which would entirely defeat the object of this clause. Many Chinese are most anxious to live in this settlement, and there is reason to suspect that some applicants for small lots are either lending their names to Chinese for a consideration Or are intending to sublet to persons who are not qualified to own land. The great demand for semiforeign houses and the increased rates now obtainable make building for Chinese tenants a very profitable business; and unless some restriction is placed on the right of subletting it is only too probable that at no distant date a large portion of this settlement will be in occupation of Chinese, to the exclusion of bona fide foreign merchants.

I have submitted these two points to His Majesty’s minister at Peking, and he agrees with me that in the interests of the trade of Wuhu the land within the settlement should be reserved for foreign merchants and that missionaries and Chinese should be excluded, in any case until the commercial requirements of the port have been satisfied. He has further authorized me to consult with the taotai and my foreign colleagues at Nanking with a view to measures being taken to this end.

I have accordingly the honor to submit this matter for the consideration of yourself and those of your colleagues who represent the interests of their nationals at Wuhu, and trust that both you and they will support me in inviting the Chinese authorities to agree to an amendment to the settlement regulations in the above sense. The exact wording of the clause can, I think, be left for future discussion.

I have, eta,

Herbert Coffe.