File No. 893.77/1557

Minister Reinsch to the Secretary of State


Russian Minister informed me today that he had been definitively instructed to lodge a protest with the Chinese Government against the grant of the Fengchen (in Shansi) to Ninghsia (in Kansu) railway concession to Americans. The protest is based on an exchange of notes in 1899 between the Chinese Government and the Russian Legation relating to any railway connecting Peking with the Siberian Railway. On June 1 [1899] the Chinese Government wrote a note, copy of which is included in Legation’s No. 1386 of March 4, 1910,18 in which the Chinese Government promises not to employ foreign non-Russian capital in any railway to be built from Peking to the north or northeast toward the Russian frontier. On June 17, 1899, the Russian Minister acknowledged this note but referred to any railway to the northeast or north of Peking or any other direction. Russian Legation relies on this latter statement. The Chinese Government maintains that it can be bound only by the language in the note from the Foreign Office; that the whole correspondence relates to railways from Peking to the Russian frontier; that it cannot therefore be applied to a railway which runs south westward from Peking, away from Russian territory; and that the latter is not a part of the Peking-Kalgan railway, which will be continued northward by the Chinese themselves.

In the conversation the Russian Minister stated to me that his Government is opposed to Chinese colonization in any part of Mongolia, but it is not apparent how development of the upper Hoangho region—largely through intensive irrigation farming—could start migration dangerous to Russia.

The fact that, in the course of the negotiations for the Chinchow-Aigun Railway, in February, 1910, the Russian Government informed the American Government only of the note of June 1, 1899, as the basis of its railway rights to the north of Peking, would indicate that it did not then rely on the note of June 17.

As the Russian Government in February, 1910,19 proposed to the Chinese Government that in lieu of the Manchurian railway the American capitalists should be given the Kalgan-Urga concession, it would appear that the Russian Government had admitted that it must assist in compensating America for exclusion from the North Manchurian Railway, and that we now could claim Russian support with respect to not only the proposed railway but the Kalgan Railway itself.

The Chinese Government has appointed a director for the proposed railway, and engineers will immediately begin the preliminary survey which will determine whether the line is likely to be commercially profitable.