Mr. Yang Yü to Mr. Gresham.

Sir: I have the honor to state that my predecessors, through interviews and correspondence, obtained the recognition by the collectors of customs, under regulations and instructions prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, of certificates of identity to the exempt class of Chinese persons, in order to facilitate a more perfect compliance with section 6 of the act of Congress approved July 5, 1884, and the Imperial Chinese Government, in accordance with an under standing so made and accepted by both governments, authorized the consuls of China in foreign countries to issue, in behalf of their own Government, to such exempt class of Chinese residents in said countries the certificates of identity required by said law, and such certificates have been issued by such consuls and recognized by the collectors of customs until a very recent date. In this connection I have the honor to say that I am in receipt of a note from the Chinese consul at New York City, and also of a petition signed by the Chinese board of trade and by twenty-four merchants of New York City, complaining that the customs officers decline to recognize and indorse such certificates, and they claim that their action in this respect is controlled by orders from the Secretary of the Treasury.

No information has been received at this legation from the Department of State for transmittal to His Imperial Majesty upon the subject of the revocation of the practice between the respective governments concerning the issuance of these certificates, and I am surprised to [Page 261]learn of the abrogation by the Secretary of the Treasury of a practice of so much importance without any consultation with, or notice to, my Government or its recognized diplomatic representative, and I regard it my duty, therefore, to ask for an explanation of the causes that led to this summary action of the Secretary of the Treasury in refusing to indorse or recognize such certificates.

I have also the honor of suggesting to you that complaints have been made to me, based upon reliable information, that Chinese Inspector Scharff, an employé of the Treasury Department, who is stationed at New York City, invariably obstructs the landing of Chinese subjects who hold such certificates or passports and treats the holders thereof and other Chinese persons outrageously by using toward them insulting and abusive language.

Trusting that I may be given, for transmission to His Imperial Majesty, a satisfactory explanation of the matters,

Accept, etc.,

Yang Yü.