The Secretary of State to Minister Rockhill.

No. 153.]

Sir: Your dispatches Nos. 208 and 284, of the respective dates of January 23 and April 14, 1906, were duly received.

The first transmits copies of the correspondence exchanged between your legation and the consul general at Shanghai in connection with the filing of claims by American citizens in Shanghai for property losses caused by the riots which took place in the international settlement on December 18 last.

The second informs the department of the demand made by the British minister on the Chinese Government for the payment of an indemnity of $80,000 for losses sustained by British subjects in the settlement through the excesses of the mob.

[Page 147]

The department has carefully considered these dispatches. The question for determination is: When losses by a Chinese riot occur in the foreign settlement at Shanghai, shall China avoid all liability to make compensation therefor on the plea that she exercises no police control in said settlement, or shall China’s liability be regarded as determined if it can be proved that the riots were instigated or supported by her own authorities outside the said settlement?

The British Government, presumably after a proper investigation of the circumstances, holds by the presentation of the claims that the Chinese Government is so liable. The department sees no good reason why American citizens who suffered losses under identic circumstances should receive different compensatory treatment from that which may be accorded to British subjects. The department accordingly telegraphed you on the 8th instant as follows:1

On the same day the consul general at Shanghai was instructed to telegraph to “carefully examine all claims American citizens by riots of December 18, 1905, and forward a list of all claims substantiated.”

I am, etc.,

Elihu Root.
  1. Supra.