File No. 774/190–193.
Chargé Fletcher to the Secretary of State.
Peking , March 25, 1908 .
Sir: In continuation of my Nos. 7951 of December 14, 1907, and 820 of January 22, 1908,2 on the subject of the joint opium commission, I have the honor to inclose copies of notes exchanged with the Wai-wu Pu in an endeavor to comply with the department’s instruction No. 354 of October 14, 1907.3 As appears from the last note received, Mr. Liu Yu-lin, who, as heretofore reported, has been charged with this matter, may be expected in Peking during the first 10 days of April. The legation will then endeavor to secure a satisfactory reply from the Chinese Government.
In this connection, I inclose translation of a very interesting and important memorial and edict recently issued, in which the proper boards are ordered to draw up regulations and to take effective measures to reduce the production and consumption of opium, in accordance with the Anglo-Chinese agreement reported in my No. 845 of February 14 last. As the memorial states this agreement in more detail than previously reported, I quote its provisions:
- The entire export of opium from India to any country whatsoever is limited to 51,000 chests annually and, beginning with 1908, this amount shall be reduced annually by 5,100 chests, so that at the end of 10 years the entire export shall be terminated.
- China shall dispatch officials to Calcutta to keep watch over the packing and export of opium, but who shall meddle with no other matters.
- The duty on foreign opium shall be doubled; but further consideration shall be given to the subject before the tax on native opium is increased.
- Opium prepared in Hongkong shall not be exported to China. Each nation shall take measures to prevent the smuggling of opium into its own territory, and the importation of prepared opium into China from Hongkong and vice versa shall be publicly prohibited.
- The sale and smoking of opium in the foreign concessions of China are to be stopped. If the Chinese authorities begin to put these rules into operation without the concessions, then the municipal councils shall without further notification put them into effect within the concessions.
- The restriction of the importation of morphia and hypodermic needles must wait until all the treaty powers consent thereto.
The memorial and edict show that the Chinese Government, while appreciating the difficulties, realizes its opportunity, and is making a serious effort to effect this great reform.
I have, etc.,