§ MR. ASCROFT
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the competition on some classes of goods in China has forced a restriction on the import of certain classes of fabrics of which this country once had a monopoly; Whether the Government intend to take steps to secure every available river, lake, and canal in China being thrown open to steam navigation without any restriction as to place of call: whether the Government contemplate any means by which steps will be taken to obtain the opening up of the River Yang-tsze and the surveying by the Government of same, with a view to its being proved suitable for steam navigation, and whether charts showing the width, depth, and configuration of banks for every 10 feet of rise of water will be prepared; whether he is aware that the Yang-tsze regulations in respect to maritime' customs cause great inconvenience to traders; whether any communications have been made to the Chinese Government in regard to same, and whether it is the intention of the Government, considering the great trade concessions obtained by Russia, and other foreign Powers in China, to take any steps to further British commerce in that empire; and when and how the same 301 will be done, and on whom will the responsibility rest?
I am aware that there is serious commercial competition in China. I stated on the 25th inst. that revised regulations for the inland waterways of China, as approved by Her Majesty's Minister at Pekin, had been agreed to by the Chinese Government, and were about to be issued. The question of the Yang-tsze navigation is one the importance of which is well known to Her Majesty's Government. I do not know what the concluding lines of the honourable Member's Question may mean. He is well acquainted with the steps that are being, and have been, taken by Her Majesty's Government for the furtherance of British commerce in China.