Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Gresham.
Peking, August 14, 1894.
Sir: I have the honor to report that at 1:30 a.m. on the 2d instant the British ship Chungking, trading between Tientsin and Shanghai, was boarded at Tongku, a coal wharf on the Peiho below Tientsin, by armed Chinese soldiers, some fifty in number, and all the Japanese passengers forcibly removed therefrom. These Japanese consisted of about twenty-four women, one man, and the wife and children of the Japanese consul at Tientsin. The wife and children of the consul were, fortunately, not seriously molested. The others were bound, hand and foot, and removed from the ship, the soldiers asserting that they were acting under orders. After being left upon the wharf for a time they were unbound and confined in a warehouse. At 5 o’clock in the morning, a superior Chinese officer arriving on the scene, they were replaced on board the ship, having been, however, robbed of about $600 in money, besides some other property.
This disgraceful incident was at once reported to this legation by Consul Bead, but the departure of the ship immediately after the event has rendered it difficult to obtain a detailed account thereof. An attempt was made to get a statement from the Japanese passengers at Chefoo, through our consular agent, but they preferred to make a statement at Shanghai.
Upon receipt of Consul Read’s report, I wrote him requesting him to obtain from the viceroy—whose soldiers were the aggressors—an expression of regret at the unwarranted attack on defenseless Japanese and particularly for the violence threatened, though not executed, against the Japanese consul’s wife. He was also instructed to induce the viceroy, if possible, to restore the money and property of which these people were robbed.
The viceroy’s attitude was perfectly satisfactory. He expressed great grief at the assault, which he completely disavowed, and he expressed his apologies for the affront offered to the wife of the consul. He promised to punish the guilty parties and to recover the stolen goods. He further authorized me to convey to you this expression of his sentiments.
As soon as certified statements of the losses of the Japanese can be procured, they will be submitted by Mr. Read to the viceroy, and there will end all connection of this legation with the affair. The British authorities have energetically taken up the matter, in so far as it concerns the violation of the neutrality of their flag, and the Chinese authorities are prepared to make every concession to their demands.
United States Minister Dun, on the 7th instant, telegraphed me with reference to this affair as follows:
Japanese consul and other Japanese from Tientsin attacked, while on British vessel by Chinese soldiers at Tongku. Consul will send particulars. You are requested to investigate.
I received this telegram on the 8th instant and replied at once as follows:
The viceroy expressed grief affair Tongku; promises to punish guilty and recover stolen property. Japanese consul not aboard; no one seriously injured.
In compliance with the request to investigate, I have taken steps to obtain sworn statements of the affair from the captain of the ship and several foreign passengers, which will be forwarded to our minister at Tokyo.
I have, etc.,