File No. 4002/234–235.

Ambassador Riddle to the Secretary of State.

No. 535.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your unnumbered instruction of August 6 last, relative to the municipal administration of Harbin, and inclosing copies of notes exchanged between the Russian minister and the Wai-wu Pu and also of Mr. Fletcher’s note to Prince Ching of June 23 last.

Herewith I inclose a copy of my note to the Russian foreign office in accordance with your instructions.

As I have not seen the official text of the preliminary arrangement signed on May 11 last, I thought I could not do better than adopt the text of Mr. Fletcher’s note to the Chinese Government, making only a few necessary alterations.

The acting minister for foreign affairs of Russia, in reply to my oral representations made to him on the subject of restrictions upon the transfer of the long-term leases at Harbin, said that he was not familiar with the details of the question, but that he thought it was better that all the treaty powers interested should give their views on the subject of the various questions involved at Harbin, and that early opportunity would be given for a complete discussion of the provisions of the detailed scheme of administration which is to supplant the preliminary arrangement.

I have, etc.,

J. W. Riddle.

Ambassador Riddle to the acting minister for foreign affairs.

Excellency: Copies of the notes exchanged on May 11 last between the Wai-wu Pu and the Russian minister to China recognizing the full sovereignty of China over the land leased to the Chinese Eastern Railway in the three eastern provinces and pledging the two Governments to maintain therein all the rights and privileges enjoyed by subjects of other powers under the treaties between China and said powers were duly communicated to the Government of the United States, as was [Page 216] also the text of the preliminary agreement signed on the same date by the Wai-wu Pu, the Russian minister, and a Russian representative of the Chinese Eastern Railway, outlining the plan of organization of the international settlements to be opened on the lands leased to the said railway.

The Government of the United States has instructed me to convey to your excellency an expression of the gratification it feels in the terms of the notes exchanged on May 11.

As regards, however, the preliminary arrangement signed on the same date, inasmuch as numerous provisions of it appear to conflict with the said treaty rights, the Government of the United States finds it impossible to accept this preliminary arrangement as satisfactory or to recognize it as in any way binding upon it or its citizens.

Since, however, Article XVII of the preliminary arrangement indicates that it is to be very shortly replaced by detailed regulations for the government of the municipalities to be created at the treaty marts within the railway leased zone the Government of the United States directs me to state that it fully expects that the practice which has heretofore been uniformly observed in China with regard to the elaboration of rules to govern international settlements at treaty ports will be followed in the present case, and that the United States will be given full opportunity to discuss with the other parties interested the terms and conditions to govern the same and to determine that all the aforesaid rights and privileges guaranteed its citizens are duly and amply secured to them.

As the regulations for the proposed international settlements can only become operative after their acceptance by all the treaty powers, it appears to the Government of the United States that, in the interest of a prompt and satisfactory settlement of the various questions involved, it is eminently to the interest of all that the full and complete discussion now asked for be accorded at the earliest possible date, so that all unnecessary delay in putting them into operation may be avoided.

I avail, etc.,

J. W. Riddle.