Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President Transmitted to Congress December 8, 1908
File No. 16576/4–6.
Consul McNally to the Assistant Secretary of State.
Nanking, February 9, 1909.
Sir: Referring to that part of the department’s dispatch No. 520, of November 30, 1908, to Mr. Rockhill, the minister at Peking, which reads: “No copy of the regulations of the international settlement at Wuhu has ever been received by the department,” I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of the regulations and a letter from T’ung Taotai at Wuhu to the British consul at that port on the subject.
I have, etc.,
The T’ung Taotai at Wuhu to the British Consul.
Sir: The regulations in 10 articles for a general foreign settlement at Wuhu, which was discussed and agreed upon between us have received the approval and sanction of the Wai-Wu-Pu. It is provided in article 2 of these regulations that “land used for public purposes, such as roads, drains, bridges, etc., shall be exempt from the land tax, and no one shall be allowed to occupy such land privately.” Again, in article 5, it is provided that a “strip of 5 chang in width shall be left along the river front for a towing path or road, on which no building or other obstruction to traffic shall be permitted.” Also, in article 6, “the work of constructing public roads, drains, and bridges shall be undertaken by the local authorities, and in order to meet the expenses of construction and maintenance the local authorities and the consul shall draw up regulations for an assessment.”
According to the above provisions the 5–chang towing road to be left along the river front is public land, and is not included in the lease; and the expenses of construction and maintenance should be met by an assessment levied according to regulations drawn up by the local authorities and the consuls.
But although this port has been open for 20 years, British firms are the only foreigners at present proposing to rent land in the settlement, and it is therefore impossible at once to raise the enormous sum required for wharf building, roadmaking, etc., it is to be feared that these works can not be at once carried out. You have expressed your apprehension that owing to the varying rise and fall of the water at the river bank, the loading and unloading of cargo by British merchants will be impeded unless there are bunds and landing places, and that this point has formed the subject of repeated discussions between us. I agree to the principle that foreign land renters must on no account suffer hindrance in coming or going, loading or unloading; and therefore, if the settlement can not at once arrive at a prosperous condition so that funds can not be provided and the local authorities are not in a position to undertake the work, the land for the 5–chang towing road along the river front may be provisionally leased to the British land renters concerned, within the limits of their respective lots, at the price of the settlement and plus the “expenses of moving.” The said land renters shall be at liberty to construct their own bunds and landing places, and shall not be liable to pay wharfage dues. The area of the towing road shall be exempt from payment of the annual land tax, the rest paying according to the regulations. When the landing places are to be constructed, an estimate of the cost will be arranged with the Chinese authorities and the amount put on record beforehand.[Page 125]
If at a future time the local authorities should be in a position to undertake public works, the original lease price paid for the towing road thus provisionally acquired by the British land renters, together with all expenses incurred in wharfing may be refunded and the local authorities resume possession and control, whereupon the British land renters shall consent to pay the assessment uniformly levied according to regulations, and the use of the wharves shall still belong in perpetuity to the land renters concerned.
I have the honor hereby to communicate to you officially the above declaration, and to request a reply for the purpose of record.
I have, etc.,
Regulations for general foreign settlement at Wuhu.
1. The boundaries of the area, situated outside of the west gate, which was marked off at the instance of the former Taotai Liu for the international foreign settlement at the treaty port of Wuhu, are defined as follows: On the south, the T’ao-chia Creek; on the north, the foot of the I-chi hill; on the east, the Hsia-sn P’u-t’ung Temple at the foot of the P’u-t’ung or T’ung-an hill; on the west, the river’s edge.
2. Foreign merchants of good standing shall be at liberty to select and lease land in the settlement according to their requirements. The lease price shall remain as already settled, 180 Spanish dollars per mow. Since there are disputes and uncertainties with regard to the ownership of much of the land on the foreshore, it is agreed, in order to avoid delay being caused by rival claimants, that the price shall be deposited in the first instance with the Chinese authorities, who shall issue title deeds and pay over the money to the rightful owners when these are ascertained.
The land tax is fixed for the present at 3,000 cash per mow annually. The tax is to be paid in advance between the 1st and 15th day of the second Chinese moon in each year, and is to be sent through the consular representatives of the landholder; or, in the absence of a consular representative at Wuhu, through the commissioner of customs or the bureau of foreign affairs to the Chinese local authorities, who will issue receipts therefor. But land used for public purposes, such as roads, drains, bridges, etc., shall be exempt from the land tax, and no person shall be allowed to occupy such land privately.
All old drains used for agriculture shall remain undisturbed so as to provide an outlet for the ponds.
No persons of bad character, foreign or Chinese, shall be permitted to reside in the settlement. All shall be expelled and not allowed to loiter about, and if they refuse to leave when requested, if Chinese, they shall be arretted and punished by the Chinese authorities, and if foreigners, they shall be dealt with by their consul at the request of the taotai.
3. Applications to lease land in the settlement shall be made to the consular representative of the applicant, accompanied by a map showing the position and extent of the lot required. The consul will notify the local authorities accordingly, whereupon a deputy shall be designated, who, with the applicants’ representative, will examine the land and see that all is in order. The applicant will then pay the lease price and the land tax due for the remainder of the current year, and upon receipt thereof, the local authorities will issue title deeds in triplicate under their seal; one copy to be retained by the Chinese authorities, and two to be sent to the renters’ consular representative, who will seal them, give one copy to the renter, and file the other in the consulate.
4. A land renter having occasion to transfer his land, must first apply to his consul, who, after due investigation, will notify the Chinese local authorities and send the original title deeds to them for indorsement.
No transfer will be allowed except to subjects of treaty powers.
5. It shall be arranged to leave some roads from east to west in the settlement, so as to maintain communication between the land behind and the water front. A strip 5 chang in width shall be left along the river front for a tow-path, along which foreign merchants may pass freely, load and unload cargo, and moor or anchor vessels, but on which no building or other obstruction to traffic shall be permitted.
6. In the event of the settlement becoming prosperous and the population increasing therein, all arrangements as regards police shall be undertaken and administered by the Chinese local authorities. The work of constructing public [Page 126] roads, drains, and bridges shall also be undertaken by the local authorities. In order to meet the expenses of construction and maintenance, the local authorities and the consuls will draw up regulations for an assessment, which shall be levied on all persons alike, irrespective of nationality.
7. The term of the lease will be 30 years, but on the expiration thereof the same may be renewed on the presentation of the title deeds to be verified and exchanged. Thereafter each successive term for renewal shall be 30 years. On the expiration of each term the land renter will send his deeds for verification to the Chinese authorities through his consular representative. If at such time the ordinary land tax has been raised, the local authorities will arrange with the consuls for an increase of the annual land tax, but the lease price is not to be paid again, nor will any new charges be imposed. If no application is made at the end of the term, the local authorities will communicate with the consul concerned with regard to the matter, and if the application is still delayed for more than four months, the title deeds shall be canceled.
8. All Chinese dwelling houses and all timber, etc., piled or stored in the settlement, shall, when the land on which it stands is taken up, be removed within six months by order of the local authorities, but the expense of moving the same, which will be very heavy, is not included in the original lease price, and must be met by a supplementary payment of 40 per cent of the lease price per mow according to the number of mow purchased. If there are graves on the land, the land renters must not remove the same themselves, a proceeding which might cause complications. Land not taken up by foreigners shall be left in possession of its present Chinese owners and farmers, so that they might not lose their means of livelihood.
9. As a precaution against fire no one shall be allowed to erect straw huts or low-class wooden buildings within the settlement under penalty of being immediately compelled to pull them down; Chinese inhabitants, however, whose land is not taken up and who dwell at some distance from buildings erected on land that is taken up, shall not for the present have their houses pulled down, but shall be persuaded by the local authorities to change their dwelling places.
No gunpowder, dynamite, or other material dangerous to life and property, shall be stored in or carried through the settlement. Offenders, whether foreigners or Chinese, shall, upon detection, be arrested and punished according to the laws of their respective countries. In case of such materials being required for manufacturing purposes or for works, application must first be made to the consul, and if the application is bona fide, the consul will communicate with the taotai, who will request the commissioner of customs to make due inquiries, after which the materials may be landed. On being landed, a safe place must be selected for its storage, and it must be used quickly and not stored for any length of time. In violation of this regulation, the Chinese local authorities will communicate with the consul who will order the material to be removed to a place of safety.
10. Other details and matters not covered by these provisions can be discussed and put on record as the occasion requires.