Mr. Gresham to Mr. Tsui Kwo Yin.

Sir: Referring to your note to this Department of June 2, 1891, in which you stated that “the Imperial Chinese Government, in order to facilitate a more perfect compliance with the terms of section 6 of the law of the Congress of the United States of July 5, 1884, has authorized the consuls of China in foreign countries to issue, in behalf of their Government, to the exempt class of Chinese residents in said countries the certificate of identity required by said law,” I now have the honor to request that you will kindly inform this Department what is the nature of the instructions, if any, of the Imperial Government to its consular officers in foreign countries in regard to this subject; and also whether any action has been taken by your Government with respect to the issuance of certificates to persons of the exempt class by its officers resident in China.

Accept, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.

Memorandum of a conversation between the Secretary of State and the Chinese minister.

The Minister (by his interpreter). Immediately after going to the legation from the State Department a few days ago, I sent to my Government a dispatch covering the substance of the interview between the Secretary of State and myself, and yesterday I received a reply expressing great satisfaction at hearing that the Secretary did not think there would be serious trouble growing out of the Geary law and the decision of the Supreme Court sustaining its validity.

The Secretary. I hope you understood me correctly in our last interview?

The Minister. I think I did; and that I correctly reported it. I wish information upon two points. Do you feel reasonably certain that the Chinese in this country will not be abused, beaten, wounded, and murdered as in the past; and do you think the Geary law will at once be enforced?

The Secretary. I am satisfied that if the Chinese protect Americans in China and prevent assaults upon them, we will be able to protect the Chinese in this country; but should Americans in China—missionaries, merchants, and others—be injured in their persons and property, and the fact become known in this country, we might not be able to protect your countrymen here. I told you before and I repeat it again, that the President can not suspend a law of Congress; that it is his duty to execute the laws, and, while I can give you no promise that the Geary law will not be enforced, I can say that, owing to its terms and requirements, its enforcement will necessarily be attended with some delay. I do not believe the Chinese will be deported in large numbers between now and the assembling of Congress, when I have reason to believe there will be further legislation on the subject.

The Minister. I am very glad to hear this. Do I understand that no Chinese will be deported between now and the assembling of Congress?

The Secretary. Some may be deported, but for reasons, part of [Page 251]which I have given, they will not be deported in large numbers before then.

The Minister. You told me that some of the harsh features of the regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury for the enforcement of the Geary law would be modified, and that, inasmuch as a validity of that law was doubted by some, the administration would likely delay efforts at enforcement until the constitutionality was passed upon by the Supreme Court. I know that you were candid in that statement, because the regulations of the old Secretary were materially modified, some of the harshest features being omitted, and the constitutionality of the law was submitted to the Supreme Court before any deportations were ordered; and I believe you are now perfectly candid in your statements. On my return to the legation I shall take pleasure in sending a dispatch to my Government expressing my confidence that it may safely rely upon what you have communicated to me to-day.

The Secretary. May I ask if in your dispatch which you received from your Government yesterday anything was said upon the subject of the protection of Americans in China?

The Minister. The dispatch stated that there was nothing to justify the belief that Americans in China were now in danger, and no effort would be spared for their protection should they be threatened with danger.