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The Chairman of the East India and China Association of London to the
Earl of Clarendon.—(Received January 7.)
East India and China Association, Couper's Court, My Lord,
Cornhill, London, January 6, 1857. THE members of this Association beg leave to address your Lordship on the occasion of the present crisis in China, many of us having personal connections and a large amount of property at stake in that country, and being deeply interested in the uninterrupted maintenance of our commercial intercourse with its people.
2. We therefore hope, if Admiral Seymour should not have succeeded in effectually and permanently establishing our right of free ingress and egress into and out of the city of Canton, conformably with the Treaty, Her Majesty's Government will adopt prompt and effectual steps to secure that important condition, in order to preclude any future collision with the local Government at Canton.
3. Your Lordship will be aware that the enforcement of this stipulation of the Treaty was indulgently postponed, from time to time, at the solicitation of the Chinese authorities at Canton: and this indulgence, instead of conciliating, has only encouraged the obstinacy and hostility of the provincial Government and populace.
4. If free intercourse were insisted upon and established at Canton, we have no doubt that animosity would gradually subside ; and that our commercial transactions there would be carried on with the same mutual satisfaction as at the northern ports, especially at Shanghae, where the increase of trade exceeds all expectation.
5. It may be necessary to make a conciliatory but powerful appeal to the Emperor at Pekin, either by Great Britain singly, or in concert with the other Treaty Powers.
6. In fact, a new Treaty will now be required ; and we are quite willing to concur in the same liberality which was voluntarily accorded on the former occasion, by allowing to other Powers all the advantages which we may obtain for our own country.
7. In the arrangement of any new Treaty, it will be necessary to revise the tariff ad valorem rates for the assessment of duties : and it would be desirable to obtain permission to trade at any other in addition to the five ports, permitting, in return Chinese vessels from all ports in China to trade with Hong Kong, and for British subjects to pass into the interior of the country, to which no objection seems to be made by the population in the vicinity of Shanghae.
It would also be a great advantage, both to Chinese and all other merchants, to have the free navigation of the large rivers.
If a first-class Representative and Plenipotentiary from Her Majesty could be sent out to negotiate a new Treaty, and to be permanently accredited to the Court of Pekin, those deplorable provincial collisions which have periodically occurred, would, in all probability, be hereafter avoided.
8. Many members of this Association have been resident in China, and would at any time be ready to give local information, derived from their own experience. And when a new Treaty is in course of formation, we hope we may be allowed, as on the former occasion, to submit such further suggestions as may occur to us for the maintenance and extension of our commerce with China.
9. We may observe, in conclusion, that our trade with China has become one of the greatest importance. The import at the time of the Treaty, was :
10. Seeing the magnitude of this trade, we can have no doubt that your Lordship's powerful mind will be anxious to place it permanently, in the words of Article 1 of the Treaty of Nankin, upon the basis of “ peace, amity, and protection for persons and property.”
I have, &c. (Signed) S. GREGSON, M.P., Chairman.
Mr. Hammond to the Chairman of the East India and China Association
Foreign Office, January 8, 1857. : I AM directed by the Earl of Clarendon to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th instant, with reference to the events which have lately occurred at Canton, and in thanking you for that communication I am to assure you that it shall receive from Her Majesty's Government all the attention which the great importance of the subject demands.
I am further to say that Lord Clarendon will have much satisfaction in
· with respect to the new Treaty which it is desirable to negotiate with China.
I am, &c. (Signed) E. HAMMOND.
The Chairman of the East India and China Association of Liverpool to
East India and China Association, Liverpool, My Lord,
January 29, 1857. • I HAVE been requested by the members of this Association to address your Lordship upon the present position of our relations with China, presuming that the hostilities which have taken place between the British forces and Chinese authorities at Canton will render it compulsory on Her Majesty's advisers to require from the Chinese Government new Treaty stipulations under which the arbitrary conduct and overbearing insolence of the high mandarins and the people, particularly at Canton, may effectually be suppressed, and British subjects obtain free access to that city, which practically is now denied.
We consider the present disruption of our friendly intercourse with China affords a fitting opportunity for a re-adjustment of our political and commercial relations with that country, and we desire to express a confident hope that Her Majesty's Government will select for this important purpose a Representative of high position and ability.
Past experience has convinced all who have had commercial intercourse with the Chinese that it is most important that a British Ambassador should be permanently resident at the Imperial Court. Further,
That British Consuls or other Government officers at the ports open to foreign trade, should have free communication (personally if desired) with the highest local Chinese authorities.
That a revision of the tariff of customs duties should be made consistent with the spirit of the Treaty concluded by Sir Henry Pottinger, viz., an ad 1:alorem duty of 5 per cent. on imports and exports.
That regulations should be made under which the payment or settlement of the Chinese import and export duties at all the ports alike, should rest between the native merchant and the Chinese customs authorities, without the interpracticable.
That the British Government should insist on the right of opening to foreign trade any port on the coast of China, or on the banks of any navigable river at any time they may think fit, and of placing Consuls at such ports.
That our ships of war should have the free navigation of and access to all the ports and rivers of China.
And that all other nations, whether parties to the Treaty or otherwise, should possess the same advantages which may be conceded to Great Britain.
I have, &c. (Signed) CHARLES TURNER, Chairman.
Mr. Hammond to the Chairman of the East India and China Association
Foreign Office, January 31, 1857. I AM directed by the Earl of Clarendon to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th instant, calling attention to various points which the East India and China Association of Liverpool recommend should be provided for in any future negotiation with China ; and I am to express to you his Lordship's thanks for your suggestions, and to inform you that they will be borne in mind.
I am, &c. (Signed) E. HAMMOND.
Papers respecting the Right of British Subjects to have
Free Entrance into Canton.
Mr. Bonham to Viscount Palmerston.—(Received August 21.)
Victoria, Hong Kong, June 21, 1848. FROM the despatches that, since my arrival in China, I have had the honour to address to your Lordship, giving cover to various correspondence with the High Commissioner, it will be seen that constant misapprehension has arisen between us. This misapprehension I do not conceive to have proceeded entirely from duplicity on the part of the Commissioner, for he cannot be expected to be much acquainted with many of the subjects on which I have had occasion to refer to him, and he, of course, has depended on the information with which he has been furnished by his inferior officers to enable him to form his replies.
To obviate this inconvenience, from whatever cause it may have arisen, I wrote to his Excellency a letter on the 7th instant, suggesting the necessity that existed for our devising means by which in future we should understand each other more satisfactorily, and the expediency of his deputing to Hong Kong two of his superior officers, whom I could place in communication with my Secretaries, that they might discuss such questions as are at present obscure, and on which it is desirable to have some explanation.
One of my objects in making the proposal was to arrive at his Excellency's intentions in permitting British subjects to enter Canton in April next,* and as to the conduct that he would be likely to adopt on the occasion.
His Excellency in reply, it will be seen, declines to depute any parties to proceed to Hong Kong, repudiates his predecessor's agreement to allow us to enter the city, which he states to be “a measure dictated by the peculiar circumstances of the moment,”and in general, as far as neglecting to enforce our Treaty rights, seems desirous to vindicate himself by attempting to make it appear that he has not the power to coerce the people to a compliance with our undoubted rights.
I have this day replied to his letter, and although it will be impossible for me to receive his Excellency's reply before the departure of the present mail, I have thought it right to forward the correspondence in its present imperfect form, that your Lordship might be enabled to judge of the spirit and tone that at present exist, and are likely to exist when the time arrives at which, by Keying's agreement, it was stipulated that we should be permitted to have free ingress into Canton.
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* See Keying's Agreement, Appendix E.