No. 78.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Evarts.

No. 380.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to you herewith an English translation of a treaty recently made between this government and the Spanish government in regard to the emigration of Chinese to Cuba and their treatment there.

You will notice, in reading this treaty, that the views presented to the Chinese by my predecessor, Mr. Avery, in regard to the evils of contract emigration have prevailed; that such emigration will not be permitted in the future, and that voluntary emigration is provided for under guarantees which have seemed suitable to the contracting parties.

I see nothing in this part of the convention to criticize; on the contrary, the stipulations agreed upon, if faithfully enforced and observed, cannot but prove mutually beneficial.

The third, the sixth, and subsequent articles provide more particularly for the appointment of Chinese consular officers in Cuba, and the treatment to be accorded to Chinese subjects resident in that island. The important features of this part of the treaty are as follows:

  • Art. III. “The Government of Spain agrees to accord to Chinese subjects now resident in Cuba, or who may hereafter proceed thither, the most favorable treatment which is accorded to the subjects of the same class of other high powers.”
  • Art. VII. “They may leave the island or travel within it at pleasure.”
  • Art. VIII. The courts of the island shall be open to them as to the subjects or citizens of other powers.
  • Art. IX. They shall be registered at the office of the consul-general at Havana. Lists of those in different parts of the island shall be provided by the Spanish authorities, and facilities given to consular officers to inspect their condition.
  • Art. XI. Chinese officials and students, those incapacitated for work, and widows and orphans, shall be returned to China at the expense of Spain.
  • Art. XII. Those who are entitled by contract to be sent back shall be entitled to claim the enforcement of their contracts.
  • Those whose contracts have expired, and who are not entitled by them to be sent back, shall receive the joint attention of the Chinese consular and the local officials.
  • Art. XIII. Chinese may not congregate in any part of the island in such numbers as to endanger the peace.
  • Art. XIV. Contracts not fulfilled must be carried out. Chinese detained in labor depots shall be released.

While it may be said that there is a degree of ambiguity in the stipulation that the Chinese in Cuba shall be entitled to “the most favorable treatment accorded to the subjects of the same class of other high powers,” it may be urged, on the other hand, that a more precise stipulation could not, perhaps, have been safely agreed to by Spain, looking to the fact that the element which is the subject of negotiation is one which cannot readily conform its condition to those of the born subjects of Spain or those of other aliens.

I do not need to dwell upon this point in order to illustrate the difficulties which must be encountered in dealing with a large Chinese laboring population in a Western country.

How far the Spanish authorities will be able to carry out their agreement to repatriate the Chinese of classes named cannot be foretold. Peru has not yet sent back any under similar stipulations, and neither government will be likely to do so, unless held to their contracts rigidly by the representatives of China.

The settlement of the difficulties between Spain and China, thus arrived at, must be considered fortunate for the relations of other powers with China. A great deal of information in regard to the sufferings of the Chinese in Cuba has been given to this government and scattered over the empire, and the good name of all Western peoples has been more or less compromised in consequence. We have every reason, therefore, to be satisfied that a settlement has been reached, and need not be sorry to learn that it is one which the Chinese think especially favorable to themselves.

The “Sovrana case,” which has been alluded to from time to time in my dispatches, was closed by the Spanish minister coincidently with the conclusion of the larger negotiations. The government paid a reduced sum as indemnity for the pillage of the ship and cargo, amounting, with interest, to about $18,000.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 380.—Translation.]

Prince Kung to Mr. Seward.

Prince Kung, chief secretary of state for foreign affairs, herewith makes a communication.

Referring to the subject of Chinese laborers in Cuba, this government has hitherto [Page 98] been the recipient of the thoughtful assistance of their excellencies the ministers of the several powers in efforts toward an adjustment.

This office has now agreed with his excellency Señor de España, the minister for Spain, upon certain articles of a convention, which were duly signed and sealed upon the 17th instant, being thus attested.

This business has called forth repeated expressions of interest from the ministers of the several powers, for which this office begs leave to express its deepest gratitude.

I have the honor to hand to your excellency herewith a copy of the convention for your consideration, and to request that your excellency will inform your government of its contents, and request your government to instruct its consular officers in Cuba to assist the consular officers which this government will hereafter send to reside in that island, in case questions affecting Chinese laborers shall arise, to the end that there may be no failure to carry out the provisions of this convention, as a proof of sincere friendship.

This Yamên desires most sincerely this good office on the part of your government.

His Excellency George F. Seward,
&c., &c., &c.

[Inclosure to inclosure 1 in No. 380.—Translation.]

text of convention agreed upon.

Their Majesties, the Emperor of China and the King of Spain, being desirous to establish new regulations for the emigration of Chinese subjects to the island of Cuba and their residence there, and in order to avoid misunderstandings in the future, have for this purpose delegated full powers, on the part of His Majesty the Emperor of China to Shên, Mao, Tung, Cheng and Hsia, minister of the foreign office, &c., and on the part of His Majesty the King of Spain to Señor de España, minister to China, &c., who have mutually agreed upon the following regulations:

I. Since there is hereafter to be no emigration under contract to labor, such contracts will not be executed, and the clauses in the treaty between the Governments of Spain and China, signed at Tientsin October 10, 1864, which provided for the emigration of Chinese under contract to labor, are invalid and of no effect, excepting that the clause in the tenth article of the said treaty, which declares that Chinese fugitives from justice shall not be harbored, shall be observed as heretofore.

II. The emigration under contract to labor having heretofore not been entirely satisfactory, it is mutually agreed by the two governments that, these abuses having now been remedied, all claims for indemnity heretofore put forward on either part are waived.

III. It is mutually agreed by the two high contracting powers that hereafter the emigration of the subjects of either, whether of single individuals or of such persons with their families, shall be entirely free and voluntary on the part of such subjects, and the high contracting powers, therefore, agree not to consent to the employment of fraud or violence, either at the ports of China or in other places, or the use of fraud of any sort, by which Chinese subjects shall be led to emigrate without their free will and consent. In case the captains of vessels or other subjects of either power violate this stipulation, the high contracting parties pledge themselves to punish such offenders severely, according to the heaviest penalties provided by the laws of their respective governments for such offenses.

The government of Spain further agrees to accord to Chinese subjects now resident in Cuba, or who may hereafter proceed thither, the most favorable treatment which is accorded in that island to the subjects of the same class of other high powers.

IV. The Government of China agrees that if at any of the ports open to foreign trade there shall be Chinese male or female subjects desirous of emigrating at their own expense to Cuba, to allow them to do so, and to interpose no obstacles. And it further agrees to instruct the customs intendants at the several ports open to foreign trade, and the local authorities, to see to it that the vessels of any nationality within the limits of their respective ports, and which may desire to receive as passengers Chinese subjects, according to the terms of this second treaty, for emigration, are provided with the necessary accommodations and supplies for the use of their emigrant passengers. In case the owners, charterers, and other parties connected with the said vessels comply with the stipulations of this convention, the custom intendants and local authorities shall interpose no hindrances.

V. The customs intendants and local authorities of the ports mentioned shall make thorough examination, in order to satisfy themselves that the provisions of this convention are complied with by and in behalf of Chinese emigrants.

Chinese subjects desiring to go abroad must first report their names and be registered [Page 99] at the office of the customs intendant, and apply for a sealed passport, the form of which will be prepared by the respective intendants. This passport, having been sent by the intendant to the Spanish consul for his countersignature and seal, will then be delivered by the intendant to the emigrant, who may then embark and proceed to his destination.

Upon arrival of the ship in Cuba, the proper official of the port shall hand over the original passport as signed and sealed by the customs intendant to the Chinese consul for examination.

At the several ports open to foreign trade in China, the customs intendant may appoint a deputy and the Spanish consul will also depute an official to personally examine ships carrying emigrants. If Chinese subjects not provided with the passport of the customs intendant are found on board, they shall at once be put on shore.

If, on arrival in Cuba, Chinese emigrants, unprovided with the intendant’s passport, are found on board, the Spanish authorities of the port shall, in concert with the Chinese consul, devise a suitable procedure.

The owners or charterers of vessels shall report in advance the time at which they desire to sail, in order that the deputies may make their inspection, and that no delays or misunderstandings may arise. In case the captain of any vessel shall fail to comply with this rule, and shall attempt to sail without awaiting inspection, the authorities of the port will address the Spanish consul, who shall withhold the ship’s papers, seize the vessel, and deal with her according to Spanish law. Thereafter and upon compliance with these regulations she may be allowed to proceed.

VI. The Government of China will at once appoint a consul-general to reside at Havana, in the island of Cuba. In addition thereto, China may appoint consular officials at all other ports and places where similar officers of any other power are permitted to reside. Consular officers appointed by China shall conduct themselves in accordance with established rules and precedents, and Spain agrees to accord them the same treatment granted to officers of other powers in Cuba.

Spanish officials in Cuba will assist, to the extent of their power, the consul-general, consuls, vice-consuls, and similar officers whom the Government of China may appoint, in order that they may accomplish the object of their mission and secure protection for Chinese subjects in that island.

VII. It is agreed that Chinese in Cuba, may leave the island and proceed to other parts at their own option. Bat criminals awaiting trial are not included in this stipulation. Arrangements will be perfected, consistent with the privileges accorded in the third article of this convention, by which Chinese residents in the island may travel at will and engage in business. These arrangements will be made either by the secretary of state far Spain, acting in conjunction with the Chinese minister to Spain, or by the local authorities at Havana, in conjunction with the consul-general for China at that port. They shall secure to Chinese subjects the privileges accorded by this convention, which declares that they shall receive the most favorable treatment accorded to the subjects of the same class of other high powers. But inasmuch as the arrangements to be made must conform to local police regulations, including all police regulations, hereafter made, it is agreed that the local Spanish authorities shall furnish each person with a permit to travel which shall be in style and form: the same as those famished to subjects or citizens of other nations.

VIII. Chinese subjects who may have occasion to appear in the Spanish courts of justice in Cuba, either to support or defend their rights, shall, whether appearing as plaintiffs or defendants, enjoy the same rights and privileges as are accorded to the subjects or citizens of other powers. Chinese subjects having business in the courts of justice may employ legal advice and interpreters in their behalf, either Spanish or foreign, and they shall be permitted either to employ such assistance personally or to request the Chinese consular authorities to secure it for them. Bat the persons employed by them must be such as are authorized by the laws of Spain to practice in the courts.

As there are those among the Chinese now resident in Cuba who, prior to the exchange of the ratifications of this convention, have made complaint of grievances, it is permitted to them to bring their suit before the Spanish courts for redress, and these courts will hear each case and administer strict justice in the same manner as is permitted to subjects of other powers.

IX. The consul-general to be appointed by the Government of China to reside at Havana shall at once, in conjunction with the local authorities, establish regulations which shall provide for the suitable registration of all Chinese subjects now in Cuba or who may hereafter proceed thither. These books of registration shall be kept in the office of the consul-general. Each person shall be furnished by the consul with a certificate of registration, which shall be exhibited by him at each city, town, or plantation to which the bearer may go for inspection.

The local authorities in Cuba shall at once furnish the Chinese consular officers with a list of the names of all Chinese subjects resident in any part of the island, and shall devise suitable facilities to enable the Chinese consular authorities to proceed to [Page 100] the cities, towns, and plantations of the island, in order that they may personally examine into the actual condition of such Chinese as are held to labor under contracts.

X. Vessels of any power which may be desirous of embarking Chinese emigrants shall, in addition to complying with the requirements of this convention, obey the regulations of their respective governments, in order to avoid lack of suitable accommodations or medical care of the sick on shipboard. Any vessels which may fail to comply with these two classes of regulations will not be allowed to embark emigrants.

XI. It is to be feared that among the Chinese now held to contract labor in Cuba are some persons who have been hitherto either students or officials in China, with their families. The Government of Spain, as an expression of its commiseration, and from sincere friendship and amity, desires to return all persons of these classes from Cuba to China, at its own expense, which will be done after the exchange of the ratifications of this convention. The Chinese consul-general and consular officers will, however, inform themselves as to the particulars in each case, and communicate them to the local authorities. Thereupon the said authorities will make a particular examination, and if the facts in each case are found to be as reported, they will cause the parties concerned to be returned to China.

Chinese subjects now held to contract labor in Cuba who are incapacitated by age from work, and Chinese orphans and widows who may desire to leave the island and return to China, will be sent home, at its own expense, by the Spanish Government.

XII. Among the Chinese laborers now in Cuba, whose term of contract has expired, in case the original contract contained language binding their employers to return them to China, the Government of Spain will cause the said employers to comply with its terms.

Among the Chinese laborers now in Cuba, are those whose original contract has been completed, but which did not specify that the laborers should be returned to China.

As it is to be feared that some persons in this class have not means wherewith to meet the expenses of a passage home, the Cuban local authorities will, in concert with the Chinese consular officers, devise suitable measures for their return.

Chinese laborers now in Cuba whose term of labor has expired, shall, after exchange of ratifications of this convention, be furnished with a certificate that their terms of labor have been completed, and shall be entitled, to all the privileges stipulated in Article VII. They shall be at liberty to continue to reside in the island or to leave it for other parts.

XIII. In case the local authorities of the island of Cuba shall at any time find such excessive accumulations of Chinese in any part of the island as to endanger the peace and good order of the locality, the given authorities will take measures to prevent Chinese subjects from proceeding thither, and will inform the consular officers that Chinese are not allowed to dwell there, in the same manner as is provided for the subjects of other powers.

In circumstances of this sort, the provisions of Article VII which give Chinese subjects the right to go and come at will, will be inoperative.

XIV. Chinese laborers in Cuba whose contracts have not been fulfilled, will be required to complete their terms of labor according to the specifications of their engagement. In all other matters, regarding passports, liberty to go and come at will, Chinese who have recently arrived in Cuba shall be entitled to all the privileges and protection accorded to those whose contracts have been completed. All Chinese laborers now detained in the several labor depots in Cuba will, upon the exchange of ratifications of this convention, be at once released, and the passports and other papers to which they are by the terms of this convention entitled, will be issued to them. They will in all cases be accorded the same treatment as is given to the same class of laborers in their localities. Criminals whose cases have not been decided will, however, be held in custody to await trial.

XV. If, in future, the Governments of China or Spain desire a modification or the withdrawal of any of the stipulations contained in this treaty, notice must be given at least one year in advance, of the desire to open negotiations to that effect.

In case China shall, hereafter, grant any concessions or privileges in the matter of Chinese emigration, not given in this convention, to any other powers, such privileges and concessions shall also be enjoyed by the Government of Spain.

XVI. The present treaty shall be ratified by their Majesties the Emperor of China and the King of Spain, and the ratifications exchanged at the capital of China within a period of eight months from its date, or sooner if possible.

[Page 101]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 380.]

Mr. Seward to Prince Kung.

Sir: I have had the honor to receive your imperial highness’s dispatch, informing me that a treaty, in regard to Chinese emigration to Cuba, and the privileges of Chinese in that island, has been concluded between your government and the minister for Spain, Señor de Espana.

I beg leave to tender to your imperial highness my congratulations on the settlement thus reached of the questions of grave importance involved, and in which, as your imperial highness is aware, my government has felt much interest.

I shall at once transmit a copy of your imperial highness’s dispatch and the treaty to Washington, and shall call the attention of the Secretary of State to your request for the continued good offices of our representatives in Cuba.

I have, &c.,