Mr. Yang Yü to Mr. Gresham.
Washington, November 8, 1893. (Received November 9.)
Sir: I have the honor to state that I have received information of the passage by the Congress of the United States of an act to amend an act entitled “An act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States,” and I express my thanks for the provision in the bill which stops the proceedings in the prosecution of Chinese persons under the Geary law in the courts, and as a result releases them from imprisonment.
It was, of course, within the power of Congress to enact the Geary law, and the amendment thereto, notwithstanding their harsh provisions, but I would suggest that if the repeal of the Geary law was an impossibility, the simple extension of the time for a term of six months was the worst treatment anticipated by the Chinese people and by the Imperial Government, and the additional objectionable provisions are a surprise and disappointment.[Page 264]
According to our treaty of 1880 with the United States “Chinese subjects, whether proceeding to the United States as traders or students, merchants or from curiosity * * * and Chinese laborers who are now in the United States * * * shall be accorded all the rights, privileges, immunities, and exemptions which are accorded to the citizens and subjects of the most favored nation;” and, reciprocally, citizens of the United States in China are treated by China in the same manner as citizens or subjects of the most favored nation there are treated. Now, the recent legislation referred to above applies only to the Chinese people in the United States, and for this reason I feel it my duty to express sincere regret and disappointment at the passage of these laws, inasmuch as they are aimed at my people to the exclusion of foreigners from all other countries. If this legislation were so extended as to include the people of other nationalities in the United States, I should deem it my duty to maintain silence upon the subject. But such is not the case.
It becomes necessary under the existing circumstances for the Chinese Government to consider and anticipate at this early date the fact that many worthy Chinese residents of the United States, who may be entitled to remain in the country, may not be able to meet the requirements of the law, or may not, for technical reasons, be accorded the privilege of registration, and hence at the end of the six months our Government may meet with a repetition of the same difficulties, to a greater or less extent, through which they have just passed, and from which they are now enjoying what may prove to be a temporary respite. It appears, therefore, that our respective governments should immediately arrive at an amicable understanding as to the future relations that are to exist between them in regard to the grave and important questions involved.
An explanation of the act of Congress is requested upon the question as to whether it is the intention of its provisions that the number of Chinese persons in the United States may be ascertained in order that the Chinese and Americans may live amicably together in the United States. If this is the intention of the law, I may be permitted to suggest that mutual consideration of the question and cordial cooperation, rather than the enactment of such legislation, would serve to further strengthen the friendly relations which have so long existed between China and the United States. In view of all the facts I would respectfully inquire whether it is now the intention of the United States Government to permit these most serious questions to rest as a finality upon the legislation of Congress as it now exists, or whether the thought is entertained of further negotiation through a different source, to the end that all the existing difficulties between such nations may be permanently settled, and their honor, dignity, and friendship maintained and preserved.
If the Government of the United States desires to entertain and consider any negotiation whatever that may lead to an adjustment of the questions involved, I will willingly join in an interview upon that subject.
It is with a feeling of assurance that the Secretary of State has always entertained a cordial regard for the friendly relations between the two nations that I venture to address this note to him, and I, in conclusion, desire to express to him my sincere thanks for the many courtesies and kindnesses extended by him to me and my Government.