Mr. Hay to Mr. Porter.

[Circular telegram.]1

In reply to a suggestion of Li Hung Chang that the ministers might be sent under safe escort to Tientsin, provided the powers would engage not to march on Pekin, the Secretary of State replied on the 30th of July:

This Government will not enter into any arrangement regarding disposition or treatment of legations without first having free communication with Minister Conger. Responsibility for their protection rests upon Chinese Government. Power to deliver at Tientsin presupposes power to protect and to open communication. This is insisted upon.

This message was delivered by Mr. Goodnow on the 31st to Viceroy Li, who then inquired whether—

If free communication were established between ministers and their Governments, it could be arranged that the powers should not advance on Pekin pending negotiations.

To this inquiry the following reply was sent on the 1st of August:

I do not think it expedient to submit the proposition of Earl Li to the other powers. Free communication with our representatives in Pekin is demanded as a matter of absolute right, and not as a favor. Since the Chinese Government admits that it possesses the power to give communication, it puts itself in an unfriendly attitude by denying it. No negotiations seem advisable until the Chinese Government shall have put the diplomatic representatives of the powers in full and free communication with their respective Governments and removed all danger to their lives and liberty. We would urge Earl Li earnestly to advise the Imperial authorities of China to place themselves in friendly communication and cooperation with the relief expedition. They are assuming a heavy responsibility in acting otherwise.

You will communicate this information to the minister of foreign affairs.

  1. Same telegram sent to United States representatives at Berlin, London, Rome, St. Petersburg, and Tokio.