Mr. Wu to Mr. Hay.

No. 240.]

Sir: When the Chinese Government consented in 1880 to a modification of the treaty of 1868, whereby the free immigration of Chinese [Page 211] laborers into the United States was restricted, it was provided in the treaty that where the legislation of Congress authorized by that convention was likely to work hardship on the Chinese subjects the minister in Washington would be permitted to communicate with the Secretary of State to the end that mutual and unqualified benefit might result.

In making use at this time of the privilege granted in the cited treaty provision, I desire not to be understood as antagonizing the just provisions of pending legislation or influencing Congressional action, but to bring to your attention, and through you to Congress, some of the hardships which will inevitably result to the subjects of China in case some of the proposed legislation should become a law. Should I remain silent until the bills now before Congress be enacted into law, it will then be too late to remedy the evil. I trust, therefore, that what I say to you may aid the honorable Congress in making a right conclusion on the subject.

I desire especially to direct attention to the bill, Senate No. 2960, which has been reported to the Senate from the Committee on Immigration. In the concluding paragraph of the report which accompanies the bill it is said:

There can be no doubt that under a wise, humane, and fearless enforcement of this act the importation of Chinese laborers will he prevented and the ingress of Chinese merchants and others of the exempt classes facilitated, and that the present relations between the United States and China will be strengthened thereby.

I feel it my duty to say to you, and through you to the Congress, which will soon be called to act upon this bill, that if it becomes a law it will have just the contrary effect from that stated by the committee. It can not fail to seriously disturb the friendly relations which have up to the present existed between the two Governments and peoples.

I do not wish to go into the different provisions of the bill in detail, but I should like to call your attention in a general way to its effects. It restricts the privileged Chinese persons, other than laborers, to come to the United States to only five classes, viz, officials, teachers, students, merchants, and travelers, in direct contravention to the treaty of 1880, in Article I, where it states that the limitation or suspension of immigration shall apply only to laborers, “other classes not being included in the limitation.” So also the history of the negotiation shows that it was the intention of the two Governments that laborers alone were to be excluded. Under the bill there would be excluded bankers, capitalists, commercial agents or brokers, and even merchants who come only to make purchases; also scholars and professors, of which there are many in China of high attainments; also physicians, clergymen, and many other classes which do not fall under the five classes exempt by the bill. The provisions of the bill as to the five exempt classes are so restrictive as to practically nullify the treaty in regard to them. The definitions as to teachers, students, and merchants are so contrary to the spirit of the treaty as to make them almost impossible of observance.

A woman married according to the Chinese custom to a person of the exempt classes would be prohibited from entering the country, because, according to the provision of the bill, it is necessary that the marriage shall be legal and binding by the laws of the United States.

The bill requires that all Chinese laborers now in the United States shall undergo a new registration. It will be remembered that my Government remonstrated against the first registration that was proposed [Page 212] under the Geary law, and only consented to it at the earnest request of the Secretary of State at the time. All the Chinese laborers submitted to that requirement, and were registered, and now it is proposed to nullify all that and subject them to the annoyance and trouble of a new registration. It is an unnecessary hardship and should not be required.

The bill also contemplates the registration of all merchants and of others of the exempt class. This can not be required under the treaty, but the bill attempts to obviate that obstacle by making the failure to register a serious prejudice of their rights.

I have heretofore complained to you of the great hardships to which laborers, merchants, and others are subjected, after they have been admitted to the United States and are lawfully domiciled in this country. Past experience shows that Chinese have been arrested by the wholesale, placed in jeopardy, and subjected to molestation and insult. When found innocent, no redress is obtained for such illegal arrest. Persons charged with being unlawfully in the country and taken before a court are denied the privilege of bail, but must remain in jail until their case is decided. The bill, in place of providing some relief for these hardships, rather adds restrictions thereto.

The provisions with regard to transit across the United States imposed by this bill are almost impossible to be complied with, because people who are passing through the United States en route to other countries do not know the laws of the country and they can not understand the intricate rules and regulations made by the Commissioner-General of Immigration.

The report of the committee says that—

The greatest degree of fairness and justice to the exempt classes will be insured by the provisions of the bill, which provides better means for the investigation and disposition of their claims.

And, again, it says:

The features of the bill * * * will tend to protect the worthy immigrant in his treaty rights and privileges.

I have referred to the fact that the provisions as to the admission of the exempt classes are in direct violation of the treaty, and in addition to this the bill provides that the exempt classes must submit their right to admission to the adjudication of the Immigration Bureau, which, as I showed in my notea to you of December 10 last, was a purely ex parte investigation, where the claimant was not permitted to confront the witnesses, was deprived of the privilege of counsel, and was excluded from an appeal to the courts. I can not understand how the committee can style this “the greatest degree of fairness and justice,” or how the “worthy immigrant is protected in his treaty rights and privileges.” It seems to me, on the contrary, that his treaty rights are taken away from him.

The provisions of the bill above referred to, and others which might be cited, place so many restrictions upon Chinese persons and require them to comply with such strict provisions that no Chinese having the least respect for himself would submit to such indignities and come to this country. I fear the effect of the bill, if it becomes a law, will be that Chinese merchants will not come here to buy goods nor students come for educational purposes.

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Another feature of the bill must be alluded to. The new possessions of the United States, such as Porto Rico, the Hawaiian Islands, the Philippines, and others which may hereafter be acquired, are subjected to its provisions. It can not be claimed that they were considered when the treaty was negotiated, and it is hardly just or in accordance with international comity that the treaty should be extended to them without the consent of China.

I have received repeated instructions from the Imperial Government, in view of the reenactment of the exclusion laws, to exert myself to see that treaty rights are observed and that no unnecessary hardships are placed upon Chinese subjects, and I feel that on account of the pendency of the legislation referred to I could not refrain from asking you to lay before the honorable Congress the views above set forth. You know that in regard to the exclusion of laborers my Government and myself have stood ready to cooperate with your Government in making the treaty prohibition effective. But with regard to the exempt classes who seek to come here for trading, educational, and other legitimate purposes, I must earnestly protest against the unwarranted and unjust provisions of the bill. In place of insuring “the greatest degree of fairness and justice,” as stated by the immigration committee, it would impose such indignities and hardships upon these classes that few, if any, would come here. And notwithstanding the sincere wish of my Government and myself to maintain and cement closer the friendly relations between the two countries, I greatly fear that these friendly relations would be endangered by the enforcement of the act.

Accept, etc.,

Wu Ting-fang.