File No. 774/164.
The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Bryan.
Washington, March 10, 1908.
Sir: The Goverment of the United States at different times within the past 12 months has instructed its diplomatic representatives at London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, The Hague, and Peking to bring to the notice of the Government to which each is accredited the proposal of the United States to conduct a joint and impartial investigation of the scientific and material conditions of the opium trade and opium habit in the Far East which affect the possessions and direct interests of those Governments in that part of the world.
The initial inquiry made having elicited favorable responses, further instructions were then issued to the several named diplomatic representatives expressing the desire of the United States to be informed whether the Governments concerned preferred to investigate the opium question by means of a conference or through a joint commission.
In their replies all the various Governments accepted the proposal in principle and expressed a preference for a joint commission. In one instance the reservation was made that the inquiry cover the production of opium in China as well as its importation; while several of the Governments concerned accepted the proposal only on condition of being assured of the cooperation of China. Assurances of the cooperation of China are given in her reply to this Government, while her general policy in the matter is evidenced by the fact that regulations for the gradual suppression of the production and consumption of opium in China and orders for their enforcement have been promulgated by the Chinese Government.
Now that a majority of the Governments in a position to share in practical interest in the opium question in the Far East have signified their willingness to participate in an investigation of that question by a joint commission, and it has thus become assured that such investigation will take place, the Government of the United States entertains the hope that this decision will become unanimous by the acceptance of the suggestion by all the powers concerned.
You are therefore instructed to take the earliest opportunity to express to the minister for foreign affairs the sincere gratification with which the Government of the United States would learn that the Government of Portugal viewed with satisfaction the contemplated effort to suppress the opium vice in the Far East, and that it would find it convenient to join the Governments of the United States, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, and the Netherlands in the proposed joint opium commission. If the hoped-for acceptance is forthcoming, you will also inquire whether the Portuguese Government cares to suggest a place and time of meeting for the commission. It is suggested in this connection that the several Governments may prefer to await the selection of the place and date of meeting before proceeding to name commissioners.
The cooperation of Portugal is desirable, for it will make the movement unanimous. Since the next step to be taken by the United [Page 80] States may await the reply of Portugal, you will endeavor to obtain that reply at an early date, and upon its receipt you will inform the department of its tenor by telegraph.
For the information or the legation a transcript of the pertinent previous correspondence is inclosed.
I am, etc.,