No. 132.
Mr. Low to Mr. Fish.

No. 276.]

Sir: Referring to your dispatch No. 105, of November 13, 1872, enclosing the translation of a note from Colonel Freyre, the minister of Peru, informing you of the proposed appointment of a diplomatic mission to China and Japan, to negotiate treaties of amity and commerce with their rulers, and directing me to afford the Peruvian envoy whatever aid I could in carrying out this object, I have now the honor to inform you that, since the receipt of this dispatch, I have received notice from Señor Garcia, charged with this mission to these countries, of his arrival in Japan and successful conduct of his negotiations with the court at Yedo, and his speedy departure from thence to Peking. (Inclosure No. 1.)

In compliance with his request, I made known his expected arrival to the Chinese government, of which fact the envoy was duly informed. (Inclosures 2 and 3.)

[Page 199]

The following day the prince replied to my note in the most decided manner, declining to negotiate any treaty with Peru until she vindicated her reputation in the treatment of Chinese subjects taken there as laborers. (Inclosure No. 4.) In this dispatch he alludes to the documents sent to him by Mr. Browne (see his dispatch No. 29, June 3, 1869) and by Mr. Williams, (see his dispatch, No. 78½, July 26, 1871,) and to information from other sources, to fortify his position in declining the proposal to negotiate.

A translation of the prince’s dispatch has been sent to Señor Garcia, so that he may have proper information to direct his future movements in such a conjuncture.

There is little doubt that the treatment of Chinese laborers in Peru is such as to justify the rulers of this empire in preventing their subjects from entering into contracts for labor in that country.

I will keep you carefully informed of the further proceedings of the two parties in this interesting discussion.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 276.—Translation.]

Señor Garcia to Mr. Low.

Sir: I have the honor to address your excellency the present communication in reference to the mission which my government has intrusted to me in the empire of China, and in anticipation of my approaching journey to that capital.

Your excellency will remember that in the year 1870 the Peruvian government, being desirous to enter into treaty relations with China and Japan, and not finding it convenient to immediately send out a legation, invoked the friendly relations of the United States, and begged the American Government to instruct their ministers at Peking and Yeddo to represent Peru until such a time as the republic could dispatch a mission. On the 10th of May of the same year General Hovey transmitted to the minister of foreign affairs, at Lima, the answer of the Secretary of State, acceding to our request, and advising him that your excellency and Mr. DeLong had been so instructed.

Two years afterward, in August, 1872, his excellency Señor Don Manuel Pardo, having inaugurated his liberal administration, one of his first cares was to attend to the very important interests of Peru in China, with which country he had constant intercourse for upwards of thirty years. President Pardo, in consequence, appointed the undersigned his envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary in China, with the objects of concluding treaties of amity, commerce, and navigation, and regulating, on bases mutually convenient, protective of persons, and similar to those adopted by other nations, the emigration of Asiatics to Peru.

When this legation was to be appointed the Peruvian government advised the Government of the United States of it, and of the purposes of the mission, and also requesting that the American representatives in Peking and Yeddo might extend their good offices to it upon its arrival, in commencing it, and lending such other friendly assistance as the occasion might require. To this request the American Government also assented most gladly, and the honorable Mr. Fish advised Colonel Freyre that instructions had been given to that effect.

Your excellency may already have heard of my arrival in Japan, and of the very flattering reception with which the Peruvian mission was honored by His Majesty the Tenno. I am happy to be able to state to your excellency that the opportune and friendly action of his excellency C. E. DeLong, minister of the United States at this court, has contributed in a most efficient manner to bring about that result and to facilitate my work with this government.

In addressing your excellency this dispatch, I am convinced that the representative of the American Union at Peking is animated by the same friendly sentiments toward Peru which have on all occasions been shown to her by the great republic; and, although I cannot yet fix the day of my departure for China, as it is not remote from this date I beg to express the hope that your excellency will please announce my approaching arrival to the Chinese government, and will endeavor to incline that government favorably to my legation, conveying to their mind the very friendly spirit in which it comes, the importance of its objects, and bringing to their knowledge the [Page 200] fact that the government of Peru has just enacted a new code of regulations for the protection of Chinese emigrants, making it impossible that they should be subjected to any abuses, which my government has always condemned and endeavored to punish; and at the same time assuring them all the rights which the constitution and liberal laws of the country guarantee to all foreigners in their persons and property.

For these good offices allow me to give your excellency my government’s and my own anticipated thanks, which it is my earnest hope to be able soon to express personally to your excellency.

Begging you to please send your answer to the American consulate at Shanghai, with instructions that it be kept for me there, I have the honor to assure your excellency of my highest regard and most distinguished consideration.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 276.]

Mr. Low to Señor Garcia.

Sir: I have had the honor to receive your excellency’s communication of the 15th ultimo, informing me of your appointment as minister plenipotentiary from Peru to Japan and China, and stating that it is your intention to shortly visit Peking for the purpose of negotiating a treaty of amity and commerce with China.

Some months since the honorable Secretary of State of the United States notified me that the government of Peru was about sending a mission to China, and authorized me to use my good offices toward enabling it to accomplish the object for which it would be sent.

I have now the honor to inform you that, in compliance with your request, I have addressed a note to Prince Kung, notifying him that a Peruvian mission would shortly reach China, and stating in general terms the objects which your government desires to accomplish.

If you find that my good offices will be of service to you in any way, I beg that yon will command me.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 276.]

Mr. Low to Prince Kung.

Sir: Some months since my Government informed me that the government of Peru was about to send a mission to Japan and China, with a view of concluding treaties of amity and commerce with those countries. I was at the same time instructed to render the Peruvian envoy such assistance as I could consistently with my other duties.

I have just received a letter from the Peruvian envoy, stating that he is about leaving Japan for China, and requesting me to inform your Imperial Highness of the fact. He further requests me to say that it is his wish to conclude a treaty between his country and this empire similar to those already existing between China and the chief western powers.

In communicating this to your Imperial Highness, I take the opportunity to express the hope that the mission will be received in the same spirit which animated Peru in sending it, and that nothing will occur to prevent the conclusion of a treaty which will be advantageous to both countries.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 4 in No. 276.]

Mr. Low to Señor Garcia.

Sir: Referring to my dispatch to your excellency of the 5th instant, inclosing a copy of my letter to Prince Kung, which I trust you have already received, I have now the [Page 201] honor to send you a reply received from his Imperial Highness. In this dispatch yon will see that the Chinese government declines to enter at present into any negotiations with you as the representative of Peru, and base their reluctance wholly on what they have heard as to the treatment experienced by their countrymen in Peru. Though the high officers in Peking have probably no knowledge by personal inquiry among Chinese who have returned home, of the truth or otherwise of the rumors which are current in the southern provinces in respect to the condition of those laborers who have been taken to Peru during the past twenty-five years, still the documents referred to in Prince Kung’s dispatch, purporting to have been written from Lima, which were sent to him from this legation in 1869 and 1871, have furnished the statements, and done much to form the opinion upon which he now bases his reasons for declining to negotiate.

These representations have been strengthened by the fact that so few laborers have ever returned from Peru in comparison to the number who have gone there, and so little can be ascertained as to the actual condition of those still remaining.

Under these circumstances it would be an act of humanity befitting the dignity of a Christian nation to furnish the Chinese authorities with the most explicit and reliable information, so as to disabuse them of any erroneous impressions they may now have upon this matter. Their own opportunities for learning the truth are not many, and a full knowledge of the matter might initiate a free emigration to Peru, like that to Siam and the United States, or Australia, which would supply her with cultivators and artisans to a great extent.

The decided and rather curt tone of the prince’s reply will perhaps excite surprise, and is most reasonably accounted for by the present discussion upon the coolie emigration to Cuba with the Spanish chargé d’affaires.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in 4 in No. 276—Translation.]

Prince Kung to Mr. Low.

Prince Kung, chief secretary of state for foreign affairs, herewith replies:

I had the honor of receiving your excellency’s communication of yesterday, in which you inform me that you had been honored with a dispatch from your Government, stating that a Peruvian envoy was already on his way to negotiate treaties of commerce with Japan and China, and directing you to assist him as far as lay in your power whenever he reached Peking, adding that you had just received a letter from the envoy himself intimating his speedy departure from Japan, and requesting you so to inform the Chinese government, &c.

I may here observe that, during the ten and more years which have passed since China has made treaties with other countries, that mutual good-will has been shown by all parties; and now that Peru proposes to enter into treaty relations also, and has applied for the good offices of your excellency to aid her, it is reasonable to admit her proposal without demur.

But the manner in which that country has acted toward China is so different from the conduct of other nations, that she cannot be regarded in the same light, and I am obliged to enter into some details to explain it to your excellency.

The only traffic which Peru has heretofore carried on is getting coolies and carrying them away, so that there are now several myriads of Chinese in that land. These people are treated with such injustice and cruelty, and suffer such extreme misery, that it cannot be adequately made known.

In June, 1869, Mr. Ross Browne, the United States minister, informed me that the Chinese laborers in Peru numbered more than thirty thousand, and that they had presented a remonstrance against the harsh treatment of their Peruvian masters to the resident American minister then at Lima, in which they complained of the unbearable nature of their wrongs, and he (Mr. Browne) expressed his willingness to aid in whatever way he could to relieve them.

Again, in July, 1871, Mr. Williams made a communication upon this subject, and proposed that stringent orders should be sent to the provincial authorities in Kwangtung to issue a proclamation restraining the people from accepting contracts for labor in Peru. This government has also heard from other sources of the harsh treatment of Chinese laborers by the Peruvians, who never stop their oppression till death ends it, and whose plan is just to sell human flesh for money. The evidence of their barbarous dealings with the coolies is plain and explicit, and this government has no desire to make a treaty with that country.

But seeing that your excellency has been asked to act in this matter between us, [Page 202] this government considers that it will not be meet to repel the Peruvians too harshly or finally, but they ought to be plainly informed that until they return all the coolies to their own country and agree not to hire any more, no treaty can be made with them. If they decline this, it will be impossible to enter into any arrangement with them.

I have ever found that your excellency clearly understands the relations of things, and I am therefore confident that in this decision I have not overpassed the rules of propriety, and you will also agree with me.