Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Gresham.
Peking , August 27, 1894 . (Received October 11.)
Sir: On the 26th instant I received from Mr. Fowler, U. S. consul at Ningpo, a telegram as follows:
Monday learned military arrested Sunday Chinhai as spy. Japanese dressed (as) priestly passenger. Morning wrote for facts. Taotai replied, giving circumstances and trial. Evidence weak and ex parte. Requested delay punishment few days. Just received reply—none of my business; will not answer further dispatches on subject. Shall demand delay. Await your instructions.
To this I replied in cipher as follows:
Gresham’s orders positive. Consuls can not protect Japanese accused of crime. You may use friendly offices to secure a fair trial; if refused, no alternative.
Chinhai is a town at the mouth of the river leading to Ningpo, about 20 miles therefrom, and within the fortifications which guard the entrance. For a Japanese to present himself in disguise, in that locality, is a proof of illicit intention or of extreme foolhardiness. The treaties between China and Japan provide that Japanese in this country shall not wear the Chinese dress. It would seem that what is unlawful in time of peace should be the more avoided in time of war.
The question of Japanese in China in disguise is a serious one. There are doubtless many of them. One has been seized at Tientsin, two at Shanghai, one at Nanking, and now one near Ningpo. Japanese engaged in making unlawful investigations in China can not occupy a better position than active belligerents. They can not claim the intervention [Page 106] of the United States if seized by Chinese authorities, away from foreign concessions, upon reasonable grounds of suspicion. The duty of U. S. consuls can go no further than to make an effort to secure their fair trial. Humanity would also dictate that protest be made against torture or barbarous punishment.
If Japanese accused of crime take refuge with or are delivered to United States authorities, this legation will, until otherwise instructed, consider it lawful to retain possession of them until reasonable proofs of guilt have been adduced. Though China is at war with Japan, Japanese have the Chinese Government’s express permission to reside here, and should be protected from causeless persecution at the hands of subordinate officials.
In this sense I have written to Mr. Fowler.
I have, etc.
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.