Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Gresham.
Peking, September 4, 1894. (Received October 11.)
Sir: On the 31st ultimo the Tsung-li-Yamên wrote this legation stating that the governor-general of Hukuang had telegraphed them that on the 24th ultimo a Japanese dressed as a Chinese had been seen without the foreign concession at Hankow; that some soldiers approached him for the purpose of arresting him; that he defended himself with a sword and escaped into the concession; that the American consul refused to give him up, stating that he was a peaceable person, and, on the contrary, put him on a steamer and sent him to Shanghai. The Yamên then advances the usual argument—there are no other charges made against the man—that he wore Chinese clothes and hence he was “obviously engaged in an irregular occupation.” The fact is overlooked that a Japanese, dressed as a Japanese or as a foreigner, would be in constant danger of his life at any place in China except Shanghai.
The Yamên make no demand as to this particular man, but request me to direct the consuls in future not to protect Japanese found in Chinese costume.
To this I replied, under date of to-day, that the U. S. consuls at Hankow [Page 111]and at the other ports will be instructed to afford no protection to Japanese acting as spies.
In a dispatch from Mr. Child, dated the 24th ultimo, he states that on that date, as the marshal of his consulate was escorting a Japanese to the steamer Tai Wo, about 2,000 Chinese surrounded him, and it was only by a show of force on the part of the municipal authorities that a riot was averted. As the date corresponds with the date of the incident complained of by the Yamên, the Japanese referred to in both communications is doubtless the same.
I have written to Mr. Child that he is not authorized to hold Japanese accused of crime against the demand of the Chinese authorities. A copy of this dispatch is inclosed herewith.
The action of the Chinese authorities with reference to alleged Japanese spies is far from just, and meets with the disapproval of the entire body of foreigners in China. Rewards for the capture of or information as to the whereabouts of Japanese spies have been advertised as follows:
- For the capture of one Japanese spy, 100 taels.
- For information as to the whereabouts of a Japanese spy, 40 taels.
To these offers are appended others of a more barbarous character, as an offer of 50 taels to any Chinese soldier who brings in the head of a Japanese after battle.
With the inducement to false accusation thus held out, no Japanese is safe. Many innocent people are sure to be accused, and accusation means conviction. Once in the hands of the Chinese, they will plead their innocence in vain.
I have, etc.,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.