Mr. Griscom to Mr. Hay.

No. 49.]

Sir: I have the honor to send you herewith a copy given me by the minister for foreign affairs of an exchange of notes between the Chinese legation and the foreign office here relative to the neutrality of China in the present war.

In the Chinese note the resolve to maintain neutrality is dwelt upon, but the impossibility of its enforcement in places still occupied by foreign troops is pointed out, and China’s sovereignty over the three eastern provinces is affirmed.

As will be seen, the Japanese reply states this Government’s position toward China’s neutrality, assures the Chinese Government that property, Imperial tombs, etc., will be respected by the Japanese forces, and disclaims the intention to acquire territory at the expense of China or to impair her sovereignty.

I am, etc.,

Lloyd C. Griscom.
[Inclosure 1.]

Note from the Chinese minister to Japan addressed to Baron Komura, minister for foreign affairs, dated February 13, 1904.

Japan and Russia have broken off their peaceful relations; but China being on friendly terms with the two countries, her Government attaching great importance to the relations of good neighborhood and in obedience to the Imperial command, have taken steps for the observance of the rules of neutrality and ordered the authorities of each and all provinces to strictly observe them. The local authorities have also been instructed to keep tranquillity in their respective [Page 422]districts and to extend protection to the commercial and Christian population, Moukden and Hsing-king being the sites of the Imperial mausoleums and palaces, the governor-general concerned has been given strict instructions to guard them with the greatest vigilance. The towns, villages, and official buildings in the three eastern provinces, as well as the persons and properties of their inhabitants, shall not be damaged or injured by the two belligerents. The Chinese troops stationed in those provinces shall not attack the troops of the belligerent countries, nor shall the latter be allowed to attack the former. A garrison has been dispatched by the Peiyang commissioner to such districts lying west of the Liao as were already evacuated by Russia. In the various provinces, as well as in Outer and Inner Mongolia, the rules of neutrality are to be carried out, so that troops of the two belligerents may not intrude thereupon, and in case they have crossed the boundary line China will take the measures for repelling them. Such steps on the part of China shall, however, not be taken as making a rupture in the friendly relations.

In Manchuria, however, there are localities still in occupation by foreign troops and beyond the reach of the power of China, where the enforcement of the rules of neutrality will, it is feared, be impossible. The three eastern provinces, as well as the rights pertaining thereto, shall remain under China’s sovereignty whichever side may gain victory, and shall not be occupied by either of the powers now in war.

The above is being communicated to the representatives of foreign powers in Peking. At the same time you are instructed to make the same declaration to the minister for foreign affairs of the Government to which you are accredited.

[Inclosure 2.]

Reply, dated February 17, 1904, of the Japanese Government to the Chinese note.

The Imperial Government, desiring to avoid as far as possible a disturbance of the peaceful condition of affairs which now prevails in China, will, in all parts of the Chinese territory excepting the regions occupied by Russia, respect the neutrality of China so long as Russia does the same.

The rules of war which govern the Imperial forces of Japan in the field do not permit the wanton destruction of property. Accordingly, the Imperial Chinese Government may rest assured that the mausoleums and palaces at Moukden and Hsing-king and the public buildings of China everywhere will be secure from any injury not attributable to the action of Russia.

Furthermore, the rights of the Chinese officials and inhabitants within the zone of military operation will, in their persons and property, be fully respected and protected by the Imperial forces so far as military necessity permits. In the event, however, they should extend aid and comfort to the enemy of Japan the Imperial Government reserve to themselves the right to take such action as the circumstances require.

It only remains to say, in conclusion, that the present war is not being waged by Japan for the purpose of conquest, but solely in defense of her legitimate rights and interests, and consequently that the Imperial Government have no intention to acquire territory as a result of the conflict at the expense of China.

The Imperial Government also wish the Imperial Chinese Government to clearly understand that whatever action may be taken by them on Chinese territory which is made the theater of war will be the result of military necessity and not in impairment of Chinese sovereignty.