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Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.



Peking, August 14, 1903.

(Replying to Mr. Hay's telegram of July 26, Mr. Conger quotes the following official note just received from Prince Ch'ing:

Your excellency has several times communicated to me the desire of your Government to have provision made in the commercial treaty for opening Moukden and Tatungkou to foreign trade. We, the Prince and ministers, of course can agree to this, but it will be necessary to wait until October 8, the date on which Russia has agreed to completely withdraw the Russian troops now occupying Manchuria, and to hand back the civil government. We, Prince and ministers, promise on that day to insert in the treaty provision for the opening by China of the said two ports, and that at the same time the completed treaty will be signed.

Mr. Conger inquires if this is satisfactory to the United States Government.)

Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 1369.]


Peking, August 14, 1903.

SIR: I have the honor to confirm recent telegrams exchanged between the Department and this legation on the subject of opening treaty ports in Manchuria.

When I received your dispatch of the 26th ultimo Prince Ch'ing was occupied with important functions at the Summer Palace, but as soon as possible thereafter I arranged with him for a conference, in which we went thoroughly over the whole question. I informed him that I had faithfully telegraphed to my Government, as he had requested, all the reasons he had given me for finding it impracticable and impossible to provide by treaty at the present time for opening the ports requested in Manchuria, and that my Government had categorically replied that it had carefully weighed every excuse offered and could not accept them as satisfactory, but it must insist that provision be made for the opening of these ports in the treaty, and that I was instructed to say to him that the insistence was based upon the following situation, to wit:

That China had the recognized right to open whatever ports she pleased in her sovereign territory; that she had repeatedly asserted that the growth of Manchurian trade and the development of international commerce demanded that the ports should be opened; that she had often expressed her willingness to open them; that she had in two formal notes to me substantially promised that provision for opening them should be made in the treaty; that she had reiterated to me that her only reason for not opening them was the objection of Russia; now my Government had, by serious and successful negotiations at Washington and St. Petersburg, secured from Russia a definite and positive declaration that, with the exception of Harbin, she had no objections to the opening of the ports mentioned. This declaration had been formally presented to the other great powers; thus every objection to opening the ports had been removed, no reasonable grounds for further refusal was left to China, and I was instructed,

therefore, that I should insist upon China fulfilling her promise, and that the treaty would not be signed unless a provision for opening the ports was made therein.

* *

The Prince replied that he feared I had not fully explained to my Government the unsurmountable difficulties in their way; that Russia had not withdrawn her objection nor notified China of the declaration given to the other powers. * He also said that if ports were opened by treaty with the United States the other countries, which are yet to make commercial treaties, would each demand the opening of other ports in their treaties, and he begged me to explain this again to my Government, and ask it to believe in China's promise to open them just as soon as Russia evacuated.

I replied that this had already been thoroughly done; that my Government had fully considered the matter and come to a just but definite conclusion. It would be a sufficient answer to any further objection on the part of Russia simply to produce her declaration to all the world, and as to other powers demanding ports if any were named in our treaty, there was nothing in that, because she had already provided for opening five ports in the British treaty.

He finally said he would agree that provision for opening the ports might be arranged by an exchange of notes supplemental to the treaty, which would be in the nature of a secret treaty, etc. I replied that my Government would never consent to this; that it was not a matter of importance to the United States only, but an international one, in which the world was interested, and we could not consent to its being treated in any but a fair, open, and public manner.

I then proposed as a compromise, in accordance with your telegraphic instruction of the 26th, that if he would write me a note, agreeing to sign on October 8, the day on which Russia has agreed to finally evacuate Manchuria, a treaty with an article providing for opening Mukden and Ta-tung-kou, this would be satisfactory to my Government, and, in order to make it easier for China, we would let the matter rest until then.

I fully explained to him that we would not insist upon the ports being opened at once, but that a date might be named at such a convenient time after the ratifications of our treaty had been exchanged as would permit China to reestablish her administration in the localities mentioned.

He informed me then that the Chinese minister in Washington had telegraphed the same proposition, but he had done so without understanding the essential conditions here, and it did not seem possible for the Chinese Government to agree to it.

He said he could not understand how the Government of the United States, which had proved such a great friend to China, should now insist upon her doing something so harmful to her best interests, and begged me again to ask my Government to accept her promise to open after evacuation, or to agree to the supplemental notes mentioned. I then informed him that there was no use for further conference and that there was nothing left for me to do but to wire my Government that China persisted in refusing our very reasonable request, and therefore that all prospects of a completion of the treaty were at an end. He then asked me to let him consult his colleagues and the Court once more before I telegraphed, and said he would give me an answer very soon.

Soon after this he wrote me a note, promising to sign a treaty with the provision required on October 8, if at that time Russia had evacuated Manchuria; but if she had not, then further conference on the subject would be necessary. This was brought to me by his excellency, Lien-fang, whom I told that it could not, under any circumstances, be accepted, and that unless a note could be written containing the promise substantially without conditions there was no use in sending me any note whatever. He returned to Prince Ch'ing, and they tried it again, sending me a draft of a note, leaving out the question of a future conference, but with the promise still conditioned upon the withdrawal of Russia.

This was on the 12th instant, and I immediately sent him word that it was futile to parley further; that the request of my Government was both moderate and reasonable; that it had absolutely cleared the way for China's easy compliance therewith, and that I would not discuss the matter further, and that if I did not receive the written promise requested by the evening of the 14th the responsibility for indefinite delay and possible failure of treaty negotiations would rest entirely upon his head.

Late last evening I received the note a copy of which I inclose, and have to-day sent Prince Ch'ing a reply, a copy of which I also inclose.

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I understand from Messrs. Goodnow and Seaman that you are fully informed upon all other points which have been agreed to by the commissioners. If this is correct, I beg that you will, on receipt of this, telegraph your approval of the entire treaty and direct that it be signed. E. H. CONGER

I have, etc.,

F. O., No. 527.]

[Inclosure 1.]
Prince Ch'ing to Mr. Conger.

Concerning the matter of opening the two ports of Mukden and Ta-tung-kou to foreign trade, your excellency has several times communicated to me in personal interviews the desire of your honorable Government to have provision for the same made in the commercial treaty. We, the Prince and the ministers, can of course agree to this, but it will be necessary to wait until the 8th of October of the present year, the date on which Russia has agreed with China to completely withdraw the Russian troops now occupying the three eastern provinces (Manchuria) and to hand back the civil government (of Manchuria).

We, Prince and ministers, promise that on that day we will insert in the treaty a provision for the opening by China of the said two ports and that at the same time the completed treaty will be signed.

As in duty bound we send this dispatch to your excellency that you may transmit the same to your honorable Government to place upon record.

A necessary dispatch.

Kuanghsu XXIX year, Sixth Moon, 21st day (August 13, 1903).

(Seal of Foreign Office.)

F. O., No. 535.]

[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Ch'ing.

Peking, August 14, 1903.

YOUR IMPERIAL HIGHNESS: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your imperial highness's dispatch of the 13th instant, in which your imperial highness

promises that on the 8th of October next you will have inserted in the commercial treaty a provision for the opening by China to foreign trade of the two ports, Mukden and Ta-tung-kou in Manchuria, and that on the same date the completed treaty will be signed.

I have the honor to express my high appreciation of the prompt compliance of your Government with this request of the United States and to assure your imperial highness of my firm conviction that in so doing the Chinese Government has acted most wisely and taken a step which can not but lead to the great advantage not only of China and the United States, but of all commercial interests. The action, too, is one which will still further strengthen the friendly relations existing between the United States and China.

I avail, etc.,


Mr. Hay to Mr. Conger.



Washington, August 15, 1903.

Acknowledging Mr. Conger's telegram of August 14, Mr. Hay states that Prince Ch'ing's note is satisfactory; that the date for signing of completed treaty, October 8, is absolute and not contingent on action of Russia. Mr. Conger is directed to make this clear to Prince Ch'ing.)

No. 1370.]

Mr. Conger to Mr. Ilay.

Peking, August 17, 1903.

SIR: I have the honor to confirm your telegram of August 15. I have made it perfectly clear to Prince Ch'ing that the date for signing of the completed treaty, October 8, is absolute and not contingent on any action of Russia.

I have, etc.,

Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.


No. 1374.]

Peking, August 25, 1903.

SIR: A British officer, just returned from the mouth of the Yalu River, reports most unfavorably as to the advisability of opening Ta-tung-kou as a treaty port, and says that An-tung Hsien, sometimes called Saho, some 30 miles farther inland, is much more suitable, having a greater depth of water and being nearer the crossing of the principal route from Manchuria into Korea.

Ta-tung-kou was selected from the best evidence then obtainable. (See my dispatch, No. 1252, of March 31, last.)

As it will be impossible to know the facts without an intelligent examination of both places, I have requested Admiral Evans to send one of his smaller vessels to the mouth of the Yalu and then, by steam launch or otherwise, make the necessary exploration and report.

I have, etc.,


Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.



Peking, September 9, 1903.

(Mr. Conger reports that recent examinations by Commander Ward, of the United States Navy, and others show conclusively that Ta-tungkou, because of the lack of water and low, muddy banks, is practically unapproachable at low tide. An-tung, an important city at crossing of principal Manchurian-Korean road, 20 miles farther up the river, has good banks, much more water, and should be opened instead of Ta-tung-kou. Admiral Evans strongly recommends it. Mr. Conger has conferred with the Prince and asked the substitution in our treaty. The Prince has no objection, but will confer with his colleagues and answer definitely in a few days.

Mr. Conger inquires if the Department approves the proposed substitution.)

Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 1385.]


Peking, September 9, 1903. SIR: I confirm my telegram of this date regarding the importance of substituting in our treaty the city of An-tung in place of Tatung-kou as the port on the Yalu to be opened to foreign trade.

Referring to my dispatch No. 1374, of August 25, on the same subject, I now inclose copy of an extract from the report of the British officer mentioned. I also inclose copy of a letter from Admiral Evans, and respectfully refer you to the report of Commander Ward on file in the Department of the Navy.

From all this it will be seen that Ta-tung-kou is a flat, low, muddy, unhealthy location, with no facilities for bunding or dock building, and is approachable only through a ditch which is dry at low water, while An-tung has 20 feet of water, a mile and a half of better banks, is of much more importance, and of better business promise. location is higher and healthier, is at the crossing of the main route from Manchuria to Korea, and seems to be in every way preferable to Ta-tung-kou.

* * *


In a conference with Prince Ch'ing yesterday I explained fully to him the situation, telling him that we had relied upon old reports and surveys in selecting Ta-tung-kou, and because it was the nearest to the sea, but that after sending a naval officer to explore and survey we had discovered the channel silted up, too little water, muddy banks, etc., while An-tung seemed to have nearly everything desirable, and as business development was the object of opening a port, it was certainly for China's interest, and, I presumed, her desire also, to open a place where business could be developed and carried on. Í therefore suggested that An-tung was the proper port to be opened, and asked that we agree that in the preparation of the treaty it should be inserted instead of Ta-tung-kou. He agreed with me and said he saw no objection to making the substitution, but it was a new question and he would be

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