Wu Ting-fang to Mr. Hay .
Washington , December 12, 1898 .
Sir: I have the honor to bring to your attention the condition of the Chinese residents of the Hawaiian Islands, in view of the recent annexation of those islands to the United States.
At the time of that annexation there were residing in the Hawaiian Islands approximately 20,000 Chinese, who were established there in accordance with the laws of the Government, and under its protection and guarantee they had acquired various rights of person and property. By the terms of the joint resolution of the Congress of the United States, some of the most important of those rights have been suddenly suspended; and, if the policy therein declared shall be adhered to, an uncalled-for discrimination and manifest injustice will result to this large body of the population of the annexed territory. I can not allow [Page 203] myself to believe that such has been the deliberate intent of the enlightened and liberal-spirited Congress of the United States; and actuated by this conviction I desire to bring to your attention, in the hope that you may see proper to lay the views of my Government before Congress, the situation of the Chinese residents of the Hawaiian Islands and the great injury and injustice which will be done them, if the provision of the joint resolution to which I have referred shall be embodied in the permanent legislation which is being contemplated by Congress.
By the laws and guarantees under which the Chinese population acquired residence in the Hawaiian Islands, they have been permitted to visit their native land and return, to bring to the island their families, to send their children home to be educated and their young men to be trained in mercantile pursuits, and to freely come and go as their business or convenience required. The statistics which I shall submit to you will show that a large number of the Chinese population have been born in the islands, and that a considerable number of those emigrated have become lawfully naturalized citizens of Hawaii. They also show that many of them have become holders of real estate, that they outnumber all other nationalities, native or foreign, as merchants and traders, and that in three of the leading branches of trade, as shown by the official licenses issued, they exceed all other nationalities. In social life, also, their position is worthy of consideration, as it will be seen that of the Chinese population over 6 years of age 48.47 per cent are able to read and write English or Hawaiian; of Chinese children over 6 years 92 per cent attend school, and many of them have been educated in the Government colleges and higher institutions of instruction; they are prominent in Christian churches, and in aiding in the support of hospitals and other charitable institutions; they freely intermarry with the native population; they are recognized as industrious, temperate, and law abiding, and as important factors in various social movements.
The reason which brought about the immigration treaty of 1880 between China and the United States, the treaty of 1894, and the legislation based on those treaties which exclude Chinese laborers from the United States, does not apply to the Hawaiian Islands. In this country it is alleged that Chinese labor comes in competition with white labor to the detriment of the latter, and that it is contrary to its interests to admit the Chinese; but exactly the reverse is the case in the Hawaiian Islands, as they come into competition with neither white nor native labor, and have been and are regarded there as a desirable population. Hence it seems unnecessary and unreasonable to extend to the islands the operations of the present exclusion laws prohibiting the coming to the United States of all Chinese laborers.
I have recently had occasion to call your attention to the unwarranted strictness of interpretation which has been given by the Attorney-General and the Secretary of the Treasury to the treaties and United States laws respecting the Chinese, by which the treaties have been so interpreted as to exclude from this country a large class of the highest and best of Chinese subjects. In view of what is herein shown to be the status of the Chinese population of Hawaii, it would be a serious aggravation of the complaint I have already thought necessary to present to you if the same interpretation should be applied to those islands.[Page 204]
I desire, further, to direct your attention to the fact that the line of policy indicated is an unnecesary discrimination against the Chinese race. They are not the only Asiatic people who do, or are likely to, come to the territories of the American Union. Does the Congress of the United States intend to declare that the Chinese are more objectionable or dangerous as neighbors or residents than the Japanese, the Malays, the Siamese, or other of the Asiatic peoples? Will they close the doors of Hawaii to the Chinese and allow freely the latter to enter these islands? Such a policy is hardly justified by the history of the Chinese nation, nor by the friendly disposition which the Imperial Government has constantly exhibited toward the United States.
I inclose you copies of a memorial1 which the Chinese residents of Hawaii submitted to the United States Commission recently on a visit to those islands, and copies of a memorandum,1 the former paper containing the statistics to which I have referred. In doing so I earnestly hope that Congress in its wisdom and sense of justice will see proper not to disturb the condition of the Chinese existing in the Hawaiian Islands at the time of the annexation, and that it will so legislate as to permit those of them who have there acquired citizenship and residential rights to enjoy those rights in all parts of the territory of the Union, and that Chinese will be allowed to enter those islands in the same way as other Asiatics.