Mr. Conger to Mr.
Legation of the
China, November 30, 1900.
Sir: I have the honor to inclose copy of two
communications which I addressed to the peace commissioners on the 19th and
27th of November, respectively. Identic notes were also sent by my
The first was sent because it was considered by the diplomatic body that in
view of the active part taken by Tung Fu-hsiang in the attempt to massacre
all foreigners in north China, and the bad influence he was exerting through
his military power, it was no place for him to be near the court.
The second refers to honors conferred on Li Ping-heng and his son and
grandson, as will be seen by the two decrees inclosed herewith. Li Ping-heng
has always been notorious for his hatred of foreigners and everything
foreign. He was governor of Shantung in 1897, when the murder of the two
German missionaries occurred, which led to the seizure by Germany of the
port of Kiao-chao. He was degraded two steps, and transferred to another
post. This sentence, by the wording of the decree, could not be commuted in
any way. During the siege he arrived in Peking, and was largely instrumental
in bringing about the death of the six Chinese ministers who were favorable
to foreigners, and who were decapitated by Imperial decree. His antiforeign
spirit was so marked and his sympathy with the Boxer movement so intense
that the diplomatic corps regarded the action of the court in conferring
upon him and his relations marks of Imperial favor calculated to mislead
public opinion, and they thereupon entered a protest by identic note, as
will be seen by inclosure No. 2.
I have, etc.,
[Enclosure No. 1.]
Mr. Conger to
Prince Ching, Li Hung Chang,
Peking, November 19,
Your Highness and Your Excellency: I have
learned that General Tung Fu-hsiang is still remaining with the
In view of the important part which he has taken in the recent events, I
consider that it is no place for him there, and he ought to be sent away
I avail myself, etc.,
[Inclosure No. 2.]
Mr. Conger to
Prince Ching, Li Hung Chang,
Peking, November 27,
Your Highness and Your Excellency: I notice
among the Imperial decrees, bearing date September 20, one conferring
rank and privileges on a son and grandson of the late Li Ping-heng “as
an indication of sincere regard for loyal and faithful service, a regard
which is boundless and ever increasing.”
That His Imperial Majesty should duly reward loyal and faithful service
is but meet and proper. In the present case, however, the fact of his
using language such as that of the decree in question and a former one,
issued immediately after the death of Li Pin-heng, eulogizing him and
conferring posthumous honors on him, might mislead public opinion by
inducing the Chinese people to believe that, while ostensibly
negotiating with the powers for a renewal of the former friendly
relations, the advisers of His Majesty continue to cherish the same
hostile sentiments which have made the late Li Ping-heng so
It is needless for me to dilate on Li Ping-heng’s record, his well-known
antiforeign spirit, the incidents which marked his progress northward,
the added vigor which he infused into the attack on the legations, his
complicity in bringing about the death of high officials favorable to
Europeans, and, last of all, his death, fighting to oppose the advance
of troops seeking to save the lives of ministers and subjects of nations
[Page 53] with whom His Imperial
Majesty professed to be at peace. Such being the case, it is my duty
most energetically to protest against the issue and publication of
decrees of this kind, and I have to request you to be good enough to
make representations in this sense, and to intimate that I request that
such decrees are not published for the future.
I avail myself, etc.,
Decree issued on the 6th September and published in
the Peking Manuscript Gazette November 3, 1900.
Li Ping-heng, assistant generalissimo of the Wu-Wei army corps, formerly
governor-general of Szechuan, was personally a pure and upright man. He
showed himself a public-spirited and loyal officer in the administration
of public affairs. He commenced his official career as a magistrate, and
advanced to the highest rank. Wherever he held office he stopped abuses
and punished the avaricious. He respected and loved to consider the
feelings of the people. We had just promoted him to be governor-general
of Szechuan, when, on account of certain affairs (Chan-tung missionary
case), he was degraded and transferred to another post. On account of
illness, however, he took home leave.
Last year he was received in audience, and, fortunately, he had regained
his health. We then appointed him to proceed on a mission of inquiry to
Moukden. Afterwards we sent him as inspector of naval affairs on the
Yangtze River, and he instituted reforms and put everything in proper
working order. On the commencement of military operations we called him
to Peking. In spite of the heat he hurried on the journey north, and on
arrival received our commands to lead our troops. He had just arrived at
the place he was to defend, when he found the country in a state of
excitement over the war. He did not achieve any good results, but this
was owing to the fact that the forces under his command had not been in
training for any length of time, and the officers were unable to render
any good services. We did not blame Li Ping-heng for losing in battle.
We now learn that his troops were defeated in battle and retired, and on
the 11th of August he committed suicide at Chang-Chia Wan, near Tung
Chou. Although no memorial has been presented to us regarding his death,
still the report that has come to us may be taken as reliable. Words are
inadequate to express how grieved we are over the news of his death.
Let Li Ping-heng have conferred upon him such favors as are by law
prescribed for governors-general, and all bad marks against his name are
hereby remitted. Let the yamen concerned look up the code and report to
us any other marks of favor that should be bestowed upon him. Further,
as an extra act of imperial favor, let a posthumous title be conferred
upon him and sacrifices be made in the Chao-chung Ssu. Ting Yung is
hereby appointed to offer libations to the spirit of the dead officer.
Let the local officials make all necessary arrangements when the body is
conveyed to its native place.
Permission is given for the corpse to be conveyed into Peking. Let the
military governor at Moukden ascertain whether the deceased left any
relations in official life and report to us, so that we may confer on
them some marks of our Imperial favor as an indication of our regard for
a loyal officer.
Decree issued on the 19th of September and published
in the Peking Manuscript Gazette November 16, 1900.
Let Li Cheng-chun, eldest son of Li Ping-heng, an honorary licentiate,
holding the rank of second degree, and an expectant assistant subprefect
of Kiang-su, be promoted to be a magistrate of an independent department
in Kiang-su; also let Li Hsieh-fu, eldest grandson of Li Ping-heng, be
made a Chü-jen (provincial graduate), and he is permitted to compete for
the metropolitan graduated degree.
The above promotions are conferred as an extra act of grace, as an
indication of sincere regard for loyal and faithful service—a regard
which is boundless and ever increasing.