Translation of telegram from the Waiwu Pu, Peking.
[Received January 21, 1905, at noon.—Copy handed to the Secretary of State January 23, 1905.]
Chinese Minister Liang, Washington:
The American minister officially states that the Russian Government has brought to the attention of the United States Government certain alleged violations of neutrality by China. There are five charges.
The first is that Japan has been permitted to enlist in Manchuria Hunghutse (hoonhoozes) bandits as regular soldiers.
Bands of Hunghutse bandits were first called into service by Mataldof (?) and other Russian officers, and organized into frontier guards. They were employed against the Japanese army. If, as it is alleged, they are in the pay of Japan and under the command of Japanese officers, this only makes one of the belligerents responsible for their employment. Moreover, China has not troops enough in the seat of war to keep her subjects there under perfect control. Whenever it was known that any Hunghutse bandits had crossed over into neutral territory the local authorities repeatedly effected their capture and punishment. The law of nations does not hold a neutral government responsible for the acts of its subjects or citizens or retired officers, who may choose to take sides as individuals in any conflict.
The second charge is that the Imperial Government employs Japanese officers as instructors for its foreign-drilled troops.
There are no Japanese officers employed in any capacity with the foreign-drilled troops in the north. It may be mentioned in this connection that the provincial college at Pauting has a number of Japanese employed as translators. But these secured their positions before the war, and after the war broke out they all gave their word of honor that they would have nothing to do with the conflict. They stand on the same footing with those subjects of Russia who have positions in the various educational institutions and in the maritime customs service. The law of nations does not prohibit the employment by a neutral government of the subjects or citizens of a belligerent power. This is a matter which a belligerent is not justified in making a subject of complaint.
The third charge is that the Imperial Government permits the use by Japan of the Miao-Dao Islands.[Page 137]
All through the year the cruiser Haiki has been under orders to cruise in the neighborhood of the Miao-Dao Islands, and the prefect of Tengchow has in addition commissioned the gunboat Haipau to patrol the adjacent waters. No attempt whatever on the part of any Japanese or any Japanese war vessel to land is reported. It is needless to say that no permission to use those islands has ever been given.
The fourth charge is that contraband goods have been carried from Chefoo to Talienwan (Dalny).
Strict orders have from the beginning been given prohibiting the shipment of contraband goods to the seat of war. No ship from Chefoo has taken a cargo to Talienwan with the knowledge of the customs authorities, which have absolutely refused to issue clearance papers for such a voyage.
The fifth charge is that the government iron works at Hanyang (Hanian) have sold pig iron to Japan.
The iron ore from Tayeh is mined and shipped by a private company, which is entirely distinct from the management of the Hanyang iron works. In 1900 and 1903 certain contracts were made between this company and some Japanese firms. Those transactions took place before the war. Viceroy Chang had nothing to do with them and Sheng Kungpao only acted for and in behalf of the company, which had no official character. The said transactions did not need the approval of the government. Moreover, pig iron is not a contraband article, according to the law of nations. The subject-matter of those contracts is iron ore before the crude metal is extracted by the smelting process. Under such circumstances, it is doubly inadmissible to treat the article as contraband. It is an article of commerce, and should be properly treated as such.
It is also asserted that China is making extensive preparations with the view of taking an active part in the war. Now, the object of maintaining a military establishment is to secure the peace and tranquility of the country. It is a part of the internal administration. What country on the surface of the globe is not using its best efforts to increase the efficiency of its military service? Why should suspicion be thrown on a step taken by China in this direction as an indication of a desire on her part to join the conflict?
The Russian circular note you cabled mentions the case of the Russian torpedo boat captured at Chefoo as evidence of a strong prepossession in favor of Japan. The fact is that the act mentioned was entirely unexpected. For this reason Admiral Shah did not succeed in preventing it. There was no connivance whatever at the capture. The Imperial Government has already instituted an inquiry into the conduct of Admiral Shah and demanded from the Japanese minister the restitution of the torpedo boat. Although the incident is not yet closed, everything that can be done has been done.
Moreover, Russia has not refrained from committing acts in violation of neutral rights. The following instances may be mentioned:
- The Russians have on territory west of the Liao River built bridges and quartered troops.
- The Russians have at Siaokulun and Sinmintun used force to compel the sale to them of cattle and provisions, and secretly carried off supplies for the army.
- At Peitaiho, Kalgan, and Fengtai Russians have been arrested for smuggling rifles, guns, and ammunitions concealed in merchandise.
- The captain of the Russian vessel sent under escort from Chefoo to Shanghai secretly made his escape at Wusung.
These violations of neutral rights have repeatedly put China in a difficult position. China is determined not to swerve a tittle from the faithful maintenance of a strict neutrality. The earnest endeavors of the local authorities to preserve order and the peaceful attitude of the people have long been appreciated by the great powers. When a belligerent seeks a pretext to find fault without any reason, it is incumbent upon China to give an answer and let the truth be known. The Government of the United States, which is thoroughly familiar with the whole situation, can not fail to uphold justice with results not only fortunate for China, but also beneficial to the world. A note to the above effect is being addressed to the American chargé d’affaires, Mr. Coolidge. You will communicate the same to the Secretary of State and report any expression of views he may make thereon.