Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 1084.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 1070, of August 16, concerning the complaint made by certain Chinese, citizens of the United States, in Honolulu, against the Chinese consul there, and the vicarious punishment of their relatives in China, resulting from his actions, I inclose further correspondence with the foreign office, and have the honor, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Page 253]
[Inclosure 1.]

Prince Chi’ng to Mr. Conger.

Your Excellency: I am in receipt of your excellency’s dispatch with reference to certain complaints from Lam Sai and Wong Liong, Chinese residents at Honolulu, citizens of the United States of America, who sent a petition to the Department of State making accusation against Mr. Yang Wei-pin, Chinese consul at Honolulu.

That the American Government instructed the governor of Hawaii to inquire carefully into the truth of the charges and inform the Department of the result of his investigation.

That the acting governor carefully examined petitioners and found their testimony true.

Further, that complainants and others were members of the Bow Wong Society, which was looked upon as a seditious organization, but that the Consul Yang Wei-pin adopted a method of suppression which punished the friends and relatives in China for those (suspects) abroad; in other words, by coercion.

In complying with instructions, your excellency requests the Chinese Government to take such prompt action as will adequately respond to the sentiments of justice and humanity.

The foreign office has already sent the contents of the above dispatch, accusing Consul Yang Wei-pin, to His Excellency Wu (Ting-fang), Chinese minister in your honorable country, to examine and deal with it in a just and reliable manner.

As in duty bound, I send this reply for your excellency’s information.

A necessary dispatch.

[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Chi’ng.

Your Highness: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a dispatch from your highness, dated the 25th of the seventh moon, in which your highness states that the complaints against Consul Yang Wei-pin have been referred to His Excellency Wu Ting-fang for investigation, and that he would deal with the case.

With reference to this subject, I beg to remark that dealing with the complaints against Consul Yang Wei-pin is a small matter as compared with the far more serious question of vicarious punishment.

Your highness will note in my letter of August 14, 1902, that I specially emphasized this point of vicarious punishment of offenses by the imposition of fines and imprisonment upon innocent kinsmen of the offenders, and that it is a species of moral torture, not only inconsistent with the conduct of civilized states, but that it is a form of coercion incompatible with the enjoyment of the recognized rights of asylum.

No civilized state would permit resort to vicarious punishment.

It is therefore not a question of what His Excellency Wu Ting-fang can do, but what the Central Government will do to prevent the officials throughout the Empire from committing such outrages.

As China is endeavoring to be counted in the comity of nations, her Government should alter and adapt her laws so as to be in harmony with the laws of the great nations of the world, which do not countenance vicarious punishment.

I can only reiterate the hope that the Chinese Government will speedily take up this important question and consider it in the same light which prompted the United States Government to draw attention to the question.

I would avail myself, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 3.]

Prince Chi’ng to Mr. Conger.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on the 29th of the seventh moon (September 1) of your excellency’s dispatch relating to the case of the charges preferred against the consul to Hawaii by Chinese who are naturalized citizens of the [Page 254] United States; that an examination of the affair of the charges shows that, however small, it has caused innocent relatives of the guilty parties to suffer very severe punishment vicariously, and your excellency asks whether or not our Government can instruct the officials of the various provinces to abstain from further employment of these severe measures, and hopes that attention may be given to the matter, and that in accordance with the kindly sentiments of your Government the law permitting vicarious punishment may be revised, etc.

Our board has examined and finds that the Chinese code has no statute as to vicarious punishments and that the principles of justice and humanity are the same as in other lands. In compliance with your excellency’s dispatch we have already instructed the viceroy of the Two Kuang and the governor of Kuangtung to command the local officials that hereafter they will not be permitted to subject the families of Chinese who have gone abroad to harsh treatment, which is strictly in accordance with the sentiments expressed by your honorable Government.

As in duty bound, we send this reply for your excellency’s perusal.