File No. 774/198–199.

Chargé Fletcher to the Secretary of State.

No. 900.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 891, of March 31, 1908,1 on the subject of the steps being taken by the Chinese Government for the extermination of the opium evil, I have the honor to inclose translation of an imperial edict of the 7th instant, appointing Prince Kung; Lu Ch’uan-lin, assistant grand secretary; and Ching-hsing and Ting Chen-to, members of the board for the organization of the deliberative assembly, a commission for the suppression of opium. The commissioners are directed to select native and foreign physicians of ability and establish sanatoria for the compulsory treatment of those addicted to the habit, including officials. They are allowed $30,000 for initial expenses and $60,000 annually.

The commission is composed of men of particularly high rank and is ordered to carry out the work fearlessly.

I have, etc.,

Henry P. Fletcher.
[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

Imperial edict, April 7, 1908.—Opium.

The harm wrought by the use of opium is very serious and we have in the past issued many edicts particularly forbidding it. Metropolitan and provincial officials should in their respective offices reverently put these prohibitions into effect. Yet it is reported that even among the officials themselves there are not lacking enslaved victims of the opium habit. These men profess to be cured of the vice, or never to have had it, while in reality they yield to the cravings in secret, or with effrontery they openly continue to indulge in the use of opium. In view of all this it is to be feared that if officials of adequate rank are not appointed to make the enforcement of these edicts their especial task they will not produce actual effect on the date set. Let the following officials be commissioners for the suppression of opium: Prince Kung, the Assistant Grand Secretary Lu Ch’uan-lin, and Ching-hsing and Ting Chen-to, appointed to assist in the organization of the deliberative assembly.

Let the above opium commission select native and foreign physicians of ability and immediately establish opium sanatoria, which shall be devoted to the exclusive purpose of aiding those who use opium to break themselves of the habit. Those officials of any of the boards who unmistakably use opium shall be dealt with by their superiors in the manner directed and the Throne shall be informed of the action taken; those whom appearances seem to convict shall be committed to a sanatorium and there subjected to an examination that shall determine the facts in the case.

Three months will be allowed for the drawing up of the needful regulations and the establishment of the sanatoria. When all is in readiness the Throne shall be apprised of the fact.

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Any metropolitan official who has not entirely cured himself of the use of opium shall be subjected by the commissioners to a thorough test in a sanatorium. In the case of the president or the vice president of a board the Throne shall be memorialized for authority to make this examination. The same shall be the case in regard to any provincial official of or above the rank of taot’ai. When the suspected one shall be declared to have been free of the habit or to have been entirely cured the sanatorium shall issue a certificate to that effect and the suspected official shall resume his former status. If, however, it is not possible to issue such a certificate the commissioners shall report to the Throne the state of affairs. Subordinate officials in the Provinces are left to the responsibility of their superiors. If the commissioners discover any case in Peking or the Provinces where a guilty subordinate has not been reported by his superior, said superior shall be referred to the board (of civil office) for punishment.

The above commissioners have been appointed to their positions after careful selection and they must be no respecters of persons, nor must they avoid the enmity of any man, but they must with all sincerity and with energy fearlessly carry out our commands. Let no indolence nor cowardice hinder them in the performance of their high duties. If in the future their labors appear to have been futile the commissioners will be held culpable.

Let K’e Feng-shih, controller of native opium taxation, hand over to the commission for initial expenses 80,000 taels, said sum to be taken out of the revenue derived from the taxation of native opium, and 60,000 taels annually hereafter, for the necessary running expenses.

Respect this.

  1. Not printed.