Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.

No. 61.]

Sir: In further reference to my telegram of the 15th instant, reporting on the general situation in China resulting from the boycott of American trade, as directed by you, I have the honor to state as complementary thereto that my report was based on the reports received nearly daily from our consular officers. I need not, I think, detail the latest reports to you, as I am advised by our consuls that they are regularly reporting to the Department on conditions in their districts. Briefly stated, my reports show that at Niuchwang, Tientsin, Chin-kiang, Hankow, Hangchow, Fuchau, and Nanking nothing has occurred of a nature to disturb trade or cause undue apprehension.

At Chefoo the boycott has caused some agitation, but nothing at all serious has occurred. The same may be said of Amoy, though the agitation there has, it would seem, been more serious.

At Canton, as was to be feared, the agitation has been great, and the boycott carried out to a certain extent, but it has not the full and hearty support of the mercantile classes.

* * * * * * *

The situation is only serious at Shanghai. Our consul-general reported to me that while American trade was suffering heavily, and [Page 217] it was feared that it would take it a long time to regain the ground lost during the boycott, he saw signs that the Chinese were weakening as the possible direct losses to them became more apparent. The leader of the movement, Tseng Shao-ching, was chiefly depending for keeping up the agitation on the students, the most violent of whom are those who have studied abroad and in whose hands the movement is becoming an antiforeign one. Tseng has no longer the influence he appears to have had with the merchants, as it was against the latter’s wishes that the recent decision was reached to cancel contracts for all classes of American goods. Great anxiety is felt on account of this last move, which may bring bankruptcy to many Chinese and large losses to the American and other foreign firms dealing in American goods.

This apprehension has grown so great that the foreign chamber of commerce got the consular body at Shanghai to telegraph on the 11th instant to the dean of the diplomatic corps to take action to “stop the action of the agitators and to pacify popular opinion. * * *” The diplomatic corps seems not disposed to act on this telegraphic request, but to await full reports by the respective consuls on the situation.

The viceroy at Nanking appears to be waking up to the gravity of the situation and has promised to take action. The viceroy at Fuchau has also shown in the Amoy affair a willingness to take strong steps to arrest the agitation. The viceroy at Canton has not so far done much to put a stop to the movement, but, judging from the little headway the boycott would seem to be making there I hope the situation will not grow more serious.

The inclosed translation of the proclamation recently issued at Wuhu shows probably the nature and scope of the instructions sent out by the foreign office here at my request. If I am correct in this belief the instructions were, as I surmised, inadequate to meet the situation, but it will slowly awaken to the proper comprehension of its duties.

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.


[From the North China Daily News, August 11, 1905.]

Notes of native affairs.—The American boycott.

We have received a copy of the following proclamation from Wuhu, which we translate, the contents of which will explain themselves. We hope our Chinese fellow-residents will carefully weigh the matter, and now that they have gained the desired attention to their wants on the part of the American Government, press, and people, they should follow the advice of the Waiwu Pu, as stated in this proclamation—namely, quietly and patiently await the result of that board’s deliberations before proceeding further with a movement that has become so injurious to all concerned.


“Ch’iao, wearing the brevet second-grade red button, and expectant taot’ai of Anhui Province and chief commissioner of the Wuhu bureau of commerce, issues the following proclamation for the information of all concerned:

“On the 13th of July I received a dispatch from his excellency the governor, stating that the Waiwu Pu, having received telegrams from Chinese merchants of various ports stating that they had inaugurated a boycott on American goods as a means of protesting against the unjust clauses of the new exclusion treaty and requesting the Waiwu Pu not to sign the new treaty as it stood, the said Waiwu Pu had replied that the draft of the new treaty had been drawn up by Minister Liang-Cheng in Washington, who sent a draft to the American foreign office, but that it had not yet been settled upon. Furthermore, United [Page 218] States Minister Rockhill, who had arrived in Peking, had in a conference with the Waiwu Pu regarding the new treaty spoken in a friendly and affable manner, nor was there any indication of coercing our government to sign the draft of the new treaty as it stood. Moreover, the said United States minister had signified his willingness to telegraph to his government to change for the better any of the objectionable clauses in the proposed new treaty. It is, however, feared that the Chinese merchants in question may have acted in a moment of impulse, although it is recognized that the step they have taken in unanimously proposing the boycotting of American goods and manufactures either through the columns of the press or by expresses was inspired by just anger at the treatment of their fellow-countrymen entering the United States. There is cause for apprehension, however, that evil characters may take the opportunity to create disturbances and influence the ignorant masses to break the peace. In view of this, therefore, the Waiwu Pu states that it is most important that steps be taken to exhort everyone to be patient and quietly await the result of the said board’s deliberations on the subject. His excellency the governor, having sent a reply by telegram to the Waiwu Pu, now instructs the bureau of commerce to issue this proclamation to inform all concerned that as the new treaty is still being deliberated upon by the Waiwu Pu and that nothing definite has as yet been decided, all gentry, merchants, and literati are exhorted to wait patiently for the instructions of the Waiwu Pu and cast away all doubts and suspicions, and they are also further asked to exhort the laboring classes and common people among them to await the result of the deliberations of the Waiwu Pu in the same manner and refrain from listening to the evil influences of the rowdy element, and thereby avoid creating disturbances which will only end to their own detriment. Let all respectfully obey.

An important proclamation.