No. 155.
Mr. Henderson to Mr. Davis.

No. 30.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that through the courtesy of Commander A. Kautz, of the United States steamship Mouocacy, last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Liang Kiau Bay, in Formosa, where the Japanese forces are encamped. (See my dispatch No. 28.)

We started from Amoy on the evening of the 27th ultimo, and arrived at Takao roads at sundown on the following day, where we had intended remaining over night, but the weather was so stormy we were unable to land, and after lying at anchor some three hours, proceeded down the coast against a strong southwest monsoon, and at daylight next morning anchored at Liang-Kiau Bay. This bay is formed by a small curvation in the shore-line, and affords not the slightest protection-against the southwest monsoon. Consequently a heavy sea was breaking upon the shore in front of the Japanese camp, rendering it impossible [Page 312] for us to communicate with them. After remaining there a few hours the storm became more violent, and vessels in the harbor began to drag their anchors. Commander Kautz, thinking it unsafe to remain, and that we could not land for several days, put to sea, and returned to Amoy, where we arrived on the evening of the 30th.

However, while at Liang-Kiau, we communicated with the British gunboat Hornet, and from her officers and other reliable sources I learned the following facts:

Japanese land forces now there number about three thousand. The Japanese corvette Nash in, and transport Shaftesbury at anchor in the bay, and the Japanese gunboat Wooshin and six other vessels, had been there but were gone. These vessels are nearly all commanded by citizens of the United States.

On the 23d the Japanese skirmishers had an engagement with the natives, and report sixteen savages killed, with six Japanese killed and thirty wounded.

The Japanese have the cordial co-operation of the Chinese at Liang Kian.

The Chinese corvette Tang Boo and gunboat Fusing visited Liang Kian on the 23d ultimo.

Although I have no official information from any source that Americans are taking part in these operations, I know personally that Lieutenant-Commander Douglas Cassel, U. S. N., and three or four other citizens of the United States, accompany the expedition.

I have the honor to inclose herewith copy of a dispatch, and translation of same, which I received on the 30th ultimo from the Chinese Taotai at this port, and respectfully request instructions as to course to pursue toward citizens of the United States implicated.

It will doubtless be remembered that these savages have heretofore been treated as an independent people, not only by foreign governments, but by the Chinese themselves, who have not hitherto pretended to claim that part of the island where the savages reside, or in any manner be responsible for their conduct. (See Consul Legendre’s dispatch No. 13, of February 20, 1868, from the board of trade at Foochow to him, dated February 7, 1868.)

It is to be hoped that this affair will, at least, settle this question of responsibility for the future.

Although the Japanese have landed at a place occupied by Chinese, they claim it is by the express permission of the imperial government at Peking.

If the difficulty between China and Japan should assume a more formidable shape before I receive instructions to do otherwise, I will enjoin upon American citizens in Formosa the observance of the strictest neutrality.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 30.—Translation.]

Tautai Tin to Mr. Henderson.

I have the honor to inform you that on the 8th day of the 4th moon of this year, (23d May,) I have received a dispatch from the board of trade at Foo Chow, stating that on the 30th day of the 3d moon of the same year (15th May) a dispatch was received by them from Viceroy Li, of the Fuh Keen and Che Kiang provinces, which says that on the 23d day of the 3d moon of the same year, (May 8,) his excellency had [Page 313] received a dispatch from the Japanese commander-in-chief, dated the 27th day of the 2d moon, (April 16,) which says as follows:

“From time immemorial the savages of Formosa have always been in the habit of killing and plundering, and should they find any person cast ashore or in danger they become very happy, and not long ago several of my countrymen, who encountered bad weather, being driven on that shore and endangered, were massacred by them.

“Now, my government having appointed me commander-in-chief to penetrate into the savage country, summon their headmen, show them kind feelings in every way, open their hearts, discuss the points, and demand the surrender of the savages who have committed the murder, and have them punished, so as to show good example to others and prevent a repetition of the offense hereafter; also, to protect future passers-by; therefore I take my country soldiers with me to go by sea to the savage country at Formosa, and to inform you of my prbeeedings.”

I also inclose another writing, which says that—

“Sixty-six Loo Choo islanders, when passing Formosa, were shipwrecked on that coast, and fifty-four men were plundered and killed by the Bawtan tribes, and only twelve escaped.

‘“Another party of men belonging to Pee-chung Chin, named Leepah, and three others, were also wrecked on that coast and plundered by the Pilam tribe, but the lives of the four men were spared. My government, therefore, send a commissioner to proceed to the spot, to conquer their hearts, and to make them comprehend human nature better and show good feelings toward others.

“I take soldiers with me as a precaution in case of emergency; that is to say, should they refuse to come to terms with us or endanger our persons, then we cannot help ourselves, and we would be compelled to chastise them a little, which we are bound to do, &c.” (Here ends the Japanese dispatch.)

Now the Viceroy says:

“I have examined into this affair, and find that the whole island of Taiwan has figured a long time in the map of my country; that although the natives consist of savages and half-castes, they have for upward of two hundred years resided and subsisted themselves in that territory, like Kwangtung, Kwangsoo, Hoonan, Hoopet, Huenan, and Kweichow, which have savages as well, and are called Yiao, Tung, Miao, and Lee, yet they are all in Chinese territory from time immemorial.

“According to ancient history these territories belong to China, and although the savages inhabit the high mountains, their nature like wild beasts, and civilized law not having been able to reach them, nor are we taken notice of by them, yet they reside within the dominions of our territory and are our subjects.

“I have also examined into the international laws, and find that any living or moving object or inhabitants, no matter whether born in the land or come from abroad, are amenable to the laws of the country they reside in. Fasheal says that anything in the country of any nation belongs to that nation. He also says that any territory discovered or conquered by any nation, and so recognized by treaty, no matter whether it was done fairly or not fairly, and so held for a long time, no person has any right to question whether it belongs to them or not. He further says that every nation should attend its own business and mind its own duty.

“I have examined the above facts and find that Formosa actually belongs to China; therefore, Chinese laws should be administered to its people, and there is no occasion to allow any other nation to interfere with our duties.

“The Japanese commander-in-chief states in his dispatch that the savages at Formosa had killed harmless people and endangered them, and that he had received orders to proceed to the savage territory and punish the principal guilty party life for life, also to teach them a lesson for the future, because they are very wicked and have been always killing harmless people.

“According to the laws of China they must be punished. Formosa belonged to China a long time ago. The Japanese government, without consulting the Tsungli Yanien as to how and in what manner the affair is to be settled, sends a commander-in-chief and troops at once to that place. This is against international law, and does not agree with the first and third articles of the Japanese treaty with China, which was ratified on the tenth year of Tung Tchih.

“And now, after carefully examining everything, we find that the first part of the Japanese dispatch says that they will send for the savage chief, to open their hearts and persuade them not to repeat the offense. Again, and that although they take a commander-in-chief and soldiers to Formosa, it is merely to be prepared in case of an attack by the savages and to punish them.

“The meaning of the Japanese commander-in-chief is only to punish the principal savages who were implicated to prevent future troubles, and there is not the least intention to go to war with China.

“With regard to the two complaints already made by the Japanese, the one relating to the Pie-chung-chin men, I have to remark, that none of the men were hurt, and that they were handed over to the authorities who had sent them to the Japanese consul at [Page 314] Shanghai, through deputies appointed by me, and thus they were restored to their homes.

“Some time ago I ordered the Taotai and Deputy at Formosa to erect watch houses and gates from Pang Liao to Liang Kiao, and soldiers and volunteers were stationed all along, in order to protect foreigners and others who may he cast away on that inhospitable shore. Certainly, after this, any Japanese merchantman passing to and fro that coast will not be molested.

“Last year when the Pee-chung-chin men were driven there nobody got hurt. This is a proof.

“The Loochoo Island is tributary to China, and is called by the Chinese “Choing San.” Both the king and inhabitants have full respect toward China. I value their lives equally as my people, and have given special orders to the Chinese authorities to make the savages responsible, and to deliver the men who have done wrong and have them punished, life for life.

“Finally, I say that Formosa belongs to China, and it is the Chinese who have to manage their own affairs. There is no necessity to allow the Japanese to act in any way for us.

“All the foreign ministers at Peking will concur with me, and say that the remarks made by me are quite reasonable.

“I have also addressed the Japanese commander-in-chief in the same day, and requested him to take his troops back to his country, and act in accordance with treaty.

“I have also addressed in the same day the board of trade at Foochoo, to notify the public in general.

“On the 28th day of the 3d moon (13th May) the board of trade received a letter from the superintendent of customs, Tartar General Wooing, stating that on the same day, (13th May,) through the war department, by “fire-post,” a secret communication was received from the Tsung li Yamen, copied from an official memorandum by Her Britannic Majesty’s principal Chinese secretary, Mai, and by him personally handed to the Tsung li Yamen. It says as follows:

“Whenever one party goes to war with another party, foreign nations are not allowed to work underhand by assisting them.

“I am now given to understand that the Japanese have hired foreign vessels to convey their soldiers, &c., and I, minister, wishing to preserve public interests, ought to investigate into the matter.

“There are four rules to be observed. Rule 4 says as follows:

“As the Japanese have proceeded to China, and landed on Chinese territory, I make a particular rule, that is: If my country’s subjects should save the Japanese, and help them by their power and influence, no matter whether it is my government’s duty to prevent them or not, or whether the Japanese have the approbation of the Chinese government or not, my government will give explicit orders when things assume another aspect. British subjects can serve neither the Japanese nor Chinese government. This will be fair and just. Were I to give notice just now, it will cause the Japanese and Chinese to break friendship. I have plainly given orders to my respective consuls not to notify to the people as yet before they hear from me again.

“Should British subjects have anything to do with this affair, the consuls are to discourage them, and prevent them from having anything to do with it.” (Here ends the viceroy’s dispatch.)

Now, says the board of trade:

“That on receipt of this dispatch they wrote to the Taotai, and requested him to communicate its contents to the Chinese local authorities and the nearest consuls.” Now the Taotai says:

“I have before this received instructions from the viceroy on the subject, when I made up my mind to address you, but as I have again received a dispatch on the subject, I do so now, and beg to request you that, should you find any of your countrymen interfering in this affair, you will please stop them, and thus preserve friendship, which is very important.