Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Gresham.
Peking , August 3, 1894 . (Received September 12.)
Sir: During the last few days, chiefly on the 30th and 31st July and the 1st August, this legation has been frequently appealed to by the Chinese Government and the Japanese chargé d’affaires in Peking.
For some reason, not as yet explained, the Japanese chargé found himself in the unfortunate position of being unable to communicate with his Government. For six days he remained without instruction s. In the meantime China had notified him that diplomatic relations were broken off. His position at Peking was unpleasant and somewhat dangerous. Under these circumstances he addressed himself to me, and I undertook to obtain advice from Tokyo for him.
With this intention, I addressed two telegrams to Mr. Dun, American minister, stating in the first that the Japanese charge proposed to leave Peking, and in the second that the immediate transfer of the protection of the interests of Japanese subjects to the authorities of our country was necessary. He turned over his legation to me at noon on the 1st instant, as stated in my dispatch No. 1905, of August 2, and at 3 o’clock left Peking with all the members of his legation, not having as yet received instructions.
Yesterday afternoon I received, however, a reply from Mr. Dun announcing that Japan had given notice of the existence of war with China and that the Japanese chargé d’affaires had been recalled. This information, which fully justifies his departure, I promptly transmitted to him at Tientsin.
The difficulties of the Chinese Government were of a somewhat similar character. It had been decided to declare war against Japan, but the ministers of the Yamên were unable to learn definitely whether the U. S. Government had consented to assume charge of Chinese subjects in Japan. On the 28th ultimo they wrote me that Japan had commenced hostilities and requested me to inform you and ask that our minister at Tokyo be ordered to assume protection of the Chinese. I telegraphed you the same day, as confirmed in my dispatch No. 1900 of the 30th ultimo. In the meantime and subsequently the Yamên telegraphed repeatedly to Mr. Yang, at Washington, and to the Chinese minister at Tokyo on this subject, but received no reply. On the 31st two secretaries of the Yamên called at this legation and told me that China was only awaiting information from you in order to declare war and recall their minister. They asked me, in the name of the prince, to telegraph again to you. As I was confident, however, that you had already instructed Mr. Dun, I telegraphed to him instead. Without waiting for an answer to this telegram, they notified the foreign [Page 100] representatives, on the afternoon of the same day, that war with Japan existed.
Your telegram of July 31, which was received here August 2, stating that “our minister to Japan was promptly instructed to exercise good offices for China,” was at once communicated to the Yamên and put an end to their anxiety. A telegram from Mr. Dun, stating that he had actually taken the subjects, legation, and consulates of China in Japan under his protection, was subsequently received and communicated to the Yamên this morning.
I have, etc.,