File No. 893.811/261

Minister Reinsch to the Secretary of State

No. 1492

Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith a translation of a despatch from the National Conservancy Bureau to the Governor of Anhui in connection with the Huai River conservancy work.

It will be seen from this despatch that the Anhui Provincial Assembly had passed three resolutions to the effect that the Provinces of Kiangsu and Anhui should separately carry out the conservancy work, that no foreign loans should be contracted, and that the Kiangsu officials should not have the right of making surveys in Anhui. The Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, in his reply, argues for the necessity of cooperation and relates the difficulties which have been encountered in securing foreign financial support.

The despatch is forwarded for your information and for future reference in connection with the Huai River work.

I have [etc.]

Paul S. Reinsch


Despatch from the National Conservancy Bureau to the Governor of Anhui in reply to the latter’s request for hastening the progress of the conservancy work of the Huai River

The despatch from your, excellency including a bill passed by the Provincial Assembly of your province on the conservancy of the Huai River has duly received the attention of this bureau. The conservancy of the Huai River was first proposed by the Chih Yi Chu or the Provincial Assembly of Kiangsu during the late dynasty. In deference to the wishes of the said assembly a conservancy department was accordingly established and surveying was carried out in the third year of the reign of Hsuan Tung of the late dynasty. Owing to the political upheaval of the time, the work was interrupted until the third year of the Republic, when this bureau was inaugurated. The late Minister of Agriculture and Commerce Chang personally conducted a surveying expedition of the Huai River with “Feng Wei Ying” and “Pei Lung Meng,” two Dutch engineers, who directed the surveying affairs. As a result of the expedition, foundation was laid for the beginning of the work. Seeing the results thus far achieved, the late Minister of Agriculture and Commerce ordered the Conservancy Department to be reorganized under the new name of the Conservancy Bureau for the Huai and the Yangtse Rivers. After reorganization the new bureau has since been placed under the direct control of this bureau.

The question for raising a loan for the purpose of conservancy was then proposed; and under the auspices of the American Red Cross Society, a survey of the river was made. The results obtained by the American surveying party [Page 217] regarding the speed of the current at different parts of the river were found corresponding exactly to what had formerly been tabulated by the Dutch engineers. The question of whether the Huai River should empty its water into the Yangtse or into the sea finally arose, and according to the suggestion of the American engineers, a careful survey of the plain in the districts north of the Huai River should first be undertaken in order to find out the direction the course of the river should be conducted. With a view to relieve the poor by enlisting labor in that district, the bureau proposed that the progress of the work should no longer be delayed.

The question of raising funds for the project finally became necessary for this bureau to find a way out. After mature consideration of the question it was decided that as the Huai River traverses the territory of two provinces, the expenditure incurred in the surveying should be raised locally by the said two provinces.

Surveying, according to the suggestion of the American engineers, should begin at the important points of the Huai River with no regard whether the territory is under the jurisdiction of Kiangsu or Anhui. In such a work, there should be no prejudice or partiality to a particular province.

According to the proposed plan the conservancy work has been divided into two stages: that of surveying and that of engineering. The surveying is again subdivided into three stages: namely the preliminary surveying, the practical surveying and the precise surveying. If the work was not suspended for lack of funds, the surveying in the districts north the of Huai River would have already been completed by now and the final consummation of the project would have already been under preparation.

A Ministerial Order fixes the amount of money each province should contribute toward the work. Owing to the delay and failure to raise the portion of funds allotted to your province, a considerable sum was in arrear. The financial condition of this bureau has long been suffering from embarrassment. In view of our responsibility, we used our best efforts to advance money to the said branch bureau to the amount of $28,000. With this aid the said bureau up to the winter of last year succeeded in completing about 60 or 70 per cent of its work in surveying. But owing to lack of funds, we could proceed no further. With regret we had to suspend the work that was on the point of completion. Notwithstanding this, we have spared no efforts in devising means for continuing the work. A petition was submitted to the Ministry of Finance on this question and in reply the latter confirmed our request that the funds for the conservancy of the Huai River shall hereafter be considered as national expenditure and the item shall be included in the yearly budget of the Government. This shows that the Government is fully aware of the fact that conservancy concerns not only the economical salvation of the inhabitants of the Huai districts, but is also a national question.

We are entertaining the hope that hereafter both Anhui and Kiangsu would cooperate with each other in supplying funds to the bureau for the prosecution of the work to a successful end so as to relieve the poverty of the inhabitants in the famine-stricken districts and to achieve a work which will be regarded with pride for many generations to come. But contrary to our expectations, the Provincial Assembly of Anhui, according to the despatch of your excellency to this bureau, has just passed a bill regarding the future procedure of the conservancy of the Huai River. In the said bill the following three resolutions are set forth:

That the conservancy work should be carried out in Kiangsu and Anhui separately without mutual cooperation.
That no foreign loans should be contracted for the funds of the work.
The power of surveying should not be vested in the hands of the Kiangsu provincials in order to prevent any possible corrupt practice.

After reading over the despatch and giving due consideration to the three resolutions reached by the Provincial Assembly of your province, this bureau has to say that the bill in question must have been passed by the Provincial Assembly of your province, when the members did not clearly undestand the nature of the work. We beg to point out that the conservancy of the Huai River is such a great task that it requires huge sums of money and considerable length of time. Realizing the magnitude of the work the Government from the first set to it with energy sparing neither effort nor money, yet this is all that has been accomplished. As to the regions along the Huai River they have been constantly devastated by the overflowing of the river, the people are on the brink of starvation. It should [Page 218] be plain to every one that the present economical condition of the people in the districts along the Huai Valley are such that it is impossible for them to contribute any funds to the province for the purpose of conservancy.

Moreover, as to the question of whether the Huai River should empty its water into the Yangtse or the sea, its lower course in either case will traverse the territory of the Kiangsu province. If there is no cooperation between Kiangsu and Anhui, how can we expect to carry out the campaign successfully? The result of this work will certainly be beneficial to both provinces alike, but the degree of benefit varies in the upper and lower valley of the river. The question for the Government to decide is whether the Huai River shall empty its water into the Yangtse or into the sea.

After careful perusal of the despatch addressed to us by your excellency, a suggestion is made that pending the decision of the question respecting the direction where the Huai River should empty its water, the conservancy of a section of the river in Anhui will certainly present many difficulties and that what the Government ought to do at the present moment is to finish the surveying first and then refer the question to both Kiangsu and Anhui. Your suggestion is indeed admirable, but it must be remembered that such a plan cannot be carried out successfully without the cooperation of the two provinces concerned. There should be no suspicion or doubt regarding the supposed differences of benefit between Kiangsu and Anhui.

As to the question of a foreign loan for the purpose, a loan agreement was signed in the third year of the Republic. Owing to the failure of the American capitalists to institute a thorough investigation into the enterprise, they refused to advance money to the Government. At the present moment, the war in Europe has made the financial market of the world tighter than usual. After having attempted a number of times to negotiate a loan, the Government finally failed to secure any financial support from foreign sources for the prosecution of this undertaking. The present financial situation of the Government should be plain to you. There are reasons for your excellency to have doubt or fear as to the Government’s ability to conclude a foreign loan to carry out the work because it is not easy for the Government to do it at the present moment, even if it had the mind to do so. What this bureau expects is that the Provincial Assembly of your province may devise a proper method for the raising of the funds necessary for the conservancy in your own province and at the same time notify the Kiangsu authorities of the desire of your province for the prompt prosecution of the campaign. As the matter concerns the economical salvation of the people, it should admit of no delay or hesitation. Being directly responsible for the affair, this bureau likes to cooperate with the authorities of these two provinces in carrying out the undertaking to a successful end at the earliest possible moment. In reply to your despatch, we beg to bring this to your notice.

Kuo Chung-hsiu,
Minister of Agriculture and Commerce and Specially Appointed Chief of the National Conservancy Bureau