Mr. Denby to Mr. Gresham.

No. 1758.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of a communication from the Tsungli Yamên, on the subject of requiring travelers in China to report their movements to the local authorities found en route.

This paper sets forth a communication from the Taotai of Ching-chou, Ichang, and Shihnan, localities in the province of Hupeh, to the effect that travelers have failed to report to the subprefect their arrival and their intended movements, and that, in such cases, he should not be called upon to report them. He further states that “should trouble arise to those who have not reported their arrival, the responsibility of giving protection should not rest on the shoulders of officials of the departments or districts.”

The governor-general, in turn, observes that the “Taotai is actuated by a desire of giving due attention to the protection of foreigners traveling with passports and thereby averting any trouble or calamity.”

[Page 242]

He states that “the departments and districts under his jurisdiction cover a vast area and the population is composed of both good and bad. If foreigners do not report to the local authorities, there will be no way of giving them ample protection.” He requests the Tsungli Yamên to arrange some plan of action with the foreign representatives.

The Tsungli Yamên observes that foreigners “should report to the local authorities of the place on their arrival, to the end that due protection may be accorded them.” The Yamên, therefore, requests me to communicate with my colleagues and have them consider the question presented and devises some feasible plan of action.

I have circulated a copy of the Chinese text, and an English translation thereof, among my colleagues for their consideration. Some time, however, will elapse before a conclusion is arrived at.

On the face of it, the requirement of reports from travelers arriving in any jurisdiction seems reasonable; nevertheless, it is by no means sure that my colleagues will consent to any new regulation in anywise burdening travelers. There are always parties of Russians, and sometimes of Englishmen, traveling over China, ostensibly engaged in scientific occupations. Although these parties are treated with courtesy by the Chinese officials, still they are viewed with some jealousy.

I will report the final action of the foreign representatives.

You are aware that American missionaries travel a great deal, either for pleasure or in search of new localities for permanent location. The passports issued to such persons by this legation usually specify that the intended travel will extend to three provinces. While I would not approve of a requirement that a route should be designated at the time of applying for a passport, because many circumstances might occur to render a change of route desirable, still there would seem to be no hardship in indicating to the authorities of the jurisdiction in which the travel begins the route proposed to be followed. On the traveler’s arrival at any departmental (chou) or district (hsien) city, he might be required to report his arrival to the local magistrate, as well as the route which he proposes to follow on his departure therefrom.

The traveler having given notice of his movements to the chief magistrates in the important cities, it would be their duty to notify all the subordinate officials, in the places through which the traveler would pass, of the fact that he was en route and there would be no excuse for a failure to afford protection.

As owing to the near approach of the closing of navigation, communication by post will be very slow, I beg to request that if my views are disapproved I be notified by wire.

It is proper to state that unless the proposed scheme is indorsed by the great powers I will hesitate to consent to it as affecting Americans alone.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure in No. 1758.]

The Tsung-li-Yamên to Mr. Denby.

Upon the 5th of October the Yamên received a communication from the governor-general of Hu-Kuang as follows:

“The Taotai of Ching-chou, Ichang, and Shihnan reports that he has received the governor-general’s instructions to the effect that the Tsungli Yamên addressed him, [Page 243]stating that, on the 17th of June last the minister of the United States, his excellency Mr. Denby, sent a note setting forth that, in May last, a passport was issued to Mr. Z. S. Beals. That gentleman now desired to have his passport altered, inserting in it the provinces Hupeh and Shensi, and the minister of the United States requested that this alteration be made and that the Yamên address the authorities of those provinces to give Mr. Beals, in case of need, all necessary protection.

“The Yamên duly made the alteration desired, viséed the passport, sent a note in reply to the minister of the United States and requested the governor-general to instruct the local authorities (of Hupeh) to render Mr. Beals the necessary aid and protection in his journey through their jurisdiction, as provided by treaty stipulations. The Yamên further requested to have communicated to it the date of Mr. BeaTs arrival and departure from any district (within the Taotai’s jurisdiction), so that a record of the same could be kept for reference. The governor-general commanded the Taotai to instruct the officials under his jurisdiction, in like manner, to observe his injunctions and to afford Mr. Beals all necessary aid and protection, and that a record be kept of his arrival at and departure from places within his circuit to be sent to the governor-general for transmission to Peking.

“The Taotai, in obedience to the instructions received, communicated with the officials under his jurisdiction that, in the event of the American Beals visiting the prefectures of Ching-chou, Ichang, or Shihnan, to give him all necessary aid and protection.

“The Taotai would observe, however, that from the date of his assumption of the duties of his office—the 1st of December, 1892, to July 12, 1893—he had received 60 communications informing him of foreigners who were traveling under passports, embracing 199 persons, male and female. Of this number there were 38 merchants, the rest being men and women engaged in missionary work. During this time, about eight months, there were no cases reported to the authorities of the arrival of foreigners Avithin the prefectures of Ching-chou, Ichang, or Shihnan.

“The Taotai begs that the governor-general will communicate with the Tsungli Yamên and explain that when foreigners apply for passports, either in Peking or in the provinces, and, when traveling in Hupeh they fail to report their arrivalto the subprefect or magistrate, as well as their intended movements, he should not, in such cases, be called upon to report upon them. Should trouble arrive to those who have not reported their arrival, the responsibility of giving protection to them should not rest on the shoulders of officials of the departments or districts.

“The Taotai presents the above for the perusal of the governor-general. The governor-general would observe that the said Taotai is actuated by a desire of giving due attention to the protection of foreigners traveling with passports, and thereby averting any trouble or calamity. The departments and districts under his jurisdiction cover a vast area of territory, and the population is composed of both good and bad. If foreigners do not report to the local authorities, there will be no way of giving them ample protection. The governor-general, therefore, requests that the Yamên will consider this question with the foreign representatives, with the view of adopting some feasible plan of action, to the end that benefit may accrue to both foreigners and Chinese alike.

“The governor-general transmits the foregoing observations, for the information and consideration of the Yamên.”

The Yamên would remark that the representations made by the governor-general of Hu Kuang are naturally true. Foreigners traveling with passports should report to the local authorities of the place on their arrival, to the end that due protection may be accorded them from time to time. But, from the representations made by the Taotai of Ching-chou, Ichang, and Shihnan, no reports have been made by foreigners traveling with passports of their arrival at the above places. If such be the case at one place it will be similar at other places, and, in the event of unexpected trouble arising, how will it be possible to render timely and adequate protection?

The Yamên would, therefore, request the minister of the United States to communicate with his colleagues, consider the question presented and try to adopt, as quickly as practicable, a feasible plan of action and inform the prince and ministers thereof so that they may communicate with the high authorities of the provinces to act accordingly.

The Yamên is in this matter actuated by a sincere desire to give protection to foreigners traveling under passports.

As in duty bound, the prince and ministers send this communication to the minister of the United States for his informal ion and for such action as may be taken in the premises.

A necessary communication addressed to H. E. Charles Denby.