File No. 893.811./33.
The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Calhoun.
Washington, September 15, 1910.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 60 of August 4, 1910, relating to the work of improving the channel of the Whangpoo River.
The department approves of your suggestion that since other powers are more interested than the United States in this question, it should be the policy of the American Legation to avoid taking a leading part in any endeavor to require the Chinese Government to fulfill strictly the letter of the conventions. While the department is deeply interested in the completion of the important work upon the Whangpoo, it is not disposed to insist upon a revival of the plan outlined in Annex XVII to the protocol of 1901.[Page 360]
In this, as well as in analogous questions, it is the desire of the department that the legation should use its best endeavors to prevent unnecessary irritation of the Government or the people of China, and to reduce to a minimum any demands upon the financial resources of the Chinese Government.
You are instructed therefore to cooperate with your colleagues in negotiating such an arrangement with respect to the Whangpoo conservancy question as will preserve the costly improvements already made and provide for such an extension of the work as may appear to be absolutely necessary, while at the same time endeavoring to save China, so far as possible, from any embarrassing financial burden.
Inasmuch as the foreign powers concerned agreed in 1901 to aid the undertaking by allowing the taxation of their commerce and shipping as well as of the real property in the Shanghai settlements, and only abandoned this plan at the urgent solicitation of the Chinese Government, which apparently feared the creation of a foreign vested interest that might lead to misunderstanding at some future time, there seems to be no reason now for objecting to such taxation either in aid of an extension of the work or for the upkeep of the improvements, the more so since the work was undertaken chiefly in the interest of foreign trade.
I am, etc.,