Mr. Denby to Mr. Gresham.
Peking, October 14, 1894. (Received November 19.)
Sir: In my dispatch No. 1921, of the 11th August, I had the honor to report to yon the seizure of the Japanese bark Tenkio Maru by the Chinese authorities at Taku. The proposed release of this vessel was put forward by the Viceroy Li as the basis of negotiations looking toward the exemption from capture of Chinese and Japanese merchant vessels. The history of these negotiations and their failure were reported to you in my dispatch No. 1938, of the 22d August.
When these negotiations failed, it was not supposed that any action with reference to this bark would be taken. It seems, however, that either from a recognition by China of the extreme harshness of her seizure, she having cleared before war was declared and having been laden with materials consigned to the Chinese Government railways, or in fulfillment of an implied obligation arising from China’s original proposal, or for some other reason, the Chinese authorities finally decided to return her to her owners. It was proposed by the Viceroy Li that the vessel be sent to Nagasaki, with a Chinese crew and foreign captain. This proposal was accepted by Japan, and notice of such acceptance given through the legations of the United States at Tokyo and Peking.
On the 11th instant the Tenkio set sail from Taku. At the request of the Japanese Government, I telegraphed the American minister at Tokyo the date of her departure. She flies the Japanese flag and carries her original ship’s papers. Her captain is also provided with a certificate, in the nature of a safe-conduct by Consul Read at Tientsin.
During her captivity the Tenkio became indebted to the Chinese authorities for certain sums of money expended on her maintenance. Advances for the payment of these sums, as well as for the expenses of her temporary captain and crew, in going to and returning from Japan, were made by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, at Tientsin. These advances were made without any assurance [Page 174] of repayment, but with the faith that they would be promptly liquidated by the owners of the ship or by the Japanese Government. At the request of the Chinese authorities, I telegraphed Mr. Dun at Tokyo, asking an assurance to this effect.
The return of the Tenkio was a voluntary act on the part of China, as, notwithstanding the hardship of her seizure, I did not feel at liberty to make any protest in the matter.
I have, etc.,