Mr. Denby to Mr. Sherman.

No. 2707.]

Sir: In Department’s dispatch No. 1395, of 19th January, I was directed to insist on the demand that the officials who did not do their duty in preventing the Kutien riots should be punished.

I have accordingly addressed to the Tsung-li Yamén a communication on the subject, of which a copy is inclosed.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure in No. 2707.]
No. 4.]

Your Highnesses and Your Excellencies: The 23d of November last I brought to your attention a demand on the part of my Government that you should take cognizance of the conduct of certain officials, who were named by me, relating to the antiforeign riots which occurred at Kutien the 1st day of August, 1895, and that proper and suitable punishment be decreed against them.

The 28th day of November last I had the honor to receive from your highnesses and your excellencies an answer to the above-mentioned communication. You therein state that on the 22d day of November, 1895, the viceroy at Foochow reported that twenty and more of the offenders had suffered the death penalty, and twenty more had been variously punished; that three officials mentioned in Commander Newell’s report had been degraded; that a year had elapsed since the case was settled, and that “it is not convenient now to pursue the matter any further.”

You further state that the claim of Miss Hartford for injuries and loss of property should be paid.

It is proper to state that I have received information that this claim has been paid, and in regard to your promptness in discharging this liability I return thanks.

I transmitted to the honorable Secretary of State a translation of the communication of your highnesses and your excellencies, and have received from him instructions to insist by all proper methods on the punishment of the officials mentioned.

The honorable Secretary remarks that the “argument that it is a year since the case was settled’ is most extraordinary, and thus (your) dismissing the subject because it is not convenient to pursue the matter any further’ is hardly the way this Government would have expected that of China to endeavor to dispose of such an important matter.”

I submit to you that it is not too late to investigate the conduct of the delinquent officials and to punish them for their connivance or negligence.

I can not too often repeat to you that the only way, or at least the most efficacious way, to prevent the recurrence of antiforeign riots in China—which I am sure you desire to prevent—is to hold the officials responsible for acts of violence perpetrated in their respective jurisdictions. As long as nothing is done but to pay damages for injuries done to foreigners, riots will continue. The payment of damages constitutes no penalty against the rioters. They may be said even to be benefited by riots which involve destruction of property, because the repairing of [Page 86] damages furnishes many of them work. If the officials are not punished, the people conclude that you and the Government of China approve of the riots. This conclusion, indeed, is inevitable, because in all matters affecting the Government of China, or the individual subject thereof, a rigid official accountability is insisted on. What I ask you to do is simply to treat with the same rigor crimes against foreigners as you now treat crimes against Chinese subjects.

There is no question but that under the treaties foreigners have the right to demand such equal treatment, and the sooner China openly admits this principle to be correct and puts it into practice the better it will be both for the Government and the people of China and for the foreigners dwelling in its borders.