File No. 774/358–359.

Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.

No. 993.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy in translation of a memorial presented on the 16th of July to the Throne by the board of law, submitting certain regulations penalizing the sale of morphia and of instruments for its injection. The imperial sanction has been given to the memorial, which, it would appear, is to be put into force at once.

I assume, although I have not as yet been so advised, that these regulations are those which the Chinese Government bound itself, under the provisions of Article XVI of our treaty of October 8, 1903, and of Article XI of the British treaty of September 5, 1902, to issue “at once “to prevent the manufacture and sale of morphia and instruments for its injection.

The importation of morphia and instruments for its injection can not as yet be stopped, as Japan stills holds back from agreeing to this measure.

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.
[Inclosure 1.]

A memorial in response to imperial orders to deliberate.

The board of law memorializes in reply to the memorial of the governor of Kiangsu.

On the 10th day of the eleventh moon of the thirty-third year of Kuanghsu—December 14, 1907—the grand secretariat copied the memorial of Ch’en Ch’i-t’ai, the governor of Kiangsu, in regard to fixing the punishment for the sale of morphia and the manufacture of hypodermic needles, and the rescript was received that it should be referred to the proper board. Therefore it was referred to this board of law where it has been carefully considered. The original memorial reads as follows:

“Morphia contains a poison capable of causing a man’s death. In foreign countries it is produced by chemical methods and classified as a drug for medicinal uses. It comes into China along with a hollow needle and is used to satisfy the opium craving. Its qualities are the same as those of opium. Men use it in hopes of curing the opium habit, but if morphia is used once hypodermically its use can not be discontinued. Every time it is used a puncture is made, and these punctures increase in number day by day and month by month until the whole body is corrupted and death follows. Morphia is more poisonous than opium. In the supplementary English and American treaties it is stipulated that except for medicinal uses, and covered by a special customs permit, morphia shall not be imported. Last year when the Government [Page 101] council memorialized in regard to the regulations for the suppression of opium the tenth article provided that the treaty regulations should be studied and instructions issued to the customshouses to notify the public. Shops, both Chinese and foreign, were forbidden to deal in hypodermic needles. But scoundrels greedy of gain delude men with morphia. Those who use it imagine it to be a means of breaking off the use of opium. The opium shops have been closed. The poor are unable to provide opium, and morphia, with hypodermic needles, can be used to satisfy the opium craving. Moreover, the cost of an injection is less than 10 cash, and it will satisfy a craving which would require several tens of cash of opium. The stupid people do not know its harmfulness and many are deceived by it.

“If the case is so in Kiangsu it must be the same in other Provinces. Regulations should be promptly drawn up so that the punishment of one may be a warning to many. It is provided in the code that those who secretly concoct poison with intent to take life, as well as those who order others to do so, are to be punished by decapitation. If a man causes the death of another by administering poison, or knowingly sells poison, he is to be punished as a criminal. Now, those who concoct the poisonous morphia and make hypodermic needles and sell them to people to cure them of the opium craving, thereby causing them to become enslaved to the needle and ultimately to die, are in the class of those who ‘concoct poison with intent to take life.’ Formerly the opium prohibitions had a clause inflicting the death penalty. As morphia is worse than opium, if the death penalty were inflicted under the law of ‘concocting poison’ it would not be too severe. But, as the original intention is to make gain and not cause death, arising from the fact that those with the opium craving are willing to bring death on themselves, a small distinction may be made. As to how the special regulations should be drawn up it is requested that the board of law in conference with the commissioner for law revision may decide and announce.”

To the above memorial the imperial rescript was that the ministers of the board of law should consult and memorialize. The ministers of the board aforesaid observe that the essence of morphia is the same as that of opium. Foreigners use chemical methods to prepare morphia and class it among the medicines, using it in the treatment of disease. It causes artificial sleep, whence its name, which means the “god of dreams.” Its strength is greater than that of opium. Last year the imperial order was received to eradicate the opium curse, and clear away entirely the chronic evil habit.

Among the regulations of the Government council it is stated that the importation of opium ought to be stopped, to eradicate the source of the evil, and it is remarked that morphia, called “ma-fei” or “mo-fei-ya,” and the morphia needles used for puncturing men’s flesh, are more injurious than opium. The contents of the eleventh article of the British commercial treaty of 1902 and the sixteenth article of the American commercial treaty of 1903 ought to be widely published and the customs officials should be notified that morphia not intended for medicinal use should be prohibited from entry. Shops in China, whether Chinese or foreign, should be strictly prohibited from preparing morphia or manufacturing hypodermic needles, so that there may be hope of removing the evil. The imperial sanction is on record for all this.

Now, although the prohibition is very strict, yet fellows greedy of gain are still deluding the people into the use of the morphia needle, and there has been no effectual restriction. From this it may be seen that at present the prohibition of opium ought to be carried out with thoroughness. The opium dives have been already closed, and the poor have no other means of satisfying the opium craving, and so they try the morphia needle. They are first attracted by the cheapness of it. They use it more and more and when the poison has got hold of them they are obliged to go on with the needle. Their bodies are covered with the festering holes until there is no place left for the needle. There is nothing worse than this. If the opium is not broken off, it will be hard to escape the evil of morphia; and if opium is abandoned, the injury of the morphia poison will be still greater. This is to avoid “Yang “to fall under “Mo” (two ancient heretical leaders). How can calamity cease?

Therefore the governor asks that a special law may be drawn up on the lines of the law for “concoction of poisons with intention to take life “to remove effectively the evil and save lives. We observe that the law regarding “concocting poisons with intent to take life” fixed the penalty at beheading without regard to whether life had actually been taken or not. This class of miscreants [Page 102] had murder as their business, and so their crime was reckoned as that of those men scheming to take life. Now, those who prepare morphia and hypodermic needles sell them to satisfy the opium craving, in this not differing from those who “concoct poisons;” but, studying the motive, it is to make gain, not to take life. Moreover, those who have the craving risk their own lives, but do not plan death by this means. If this be ranked as identical with the crime of “concocting poison to take life,” there is really a small distinction between the facts and the statements of the original memorial, and deliberation is required. Unless the law is carefully considered, justice will not be displayed. In regard to the sale of morphia by dealers, the English and American treaties have the provision that unless the morphia is required for medicinal purposes and covered by a special permit, it may not be imported. The commissioners of customs ought to be cautioned to act according to the treaty provisions. Tricky people in the interior who scheme to sell morphia secretly against the law have no name by which their crime may be called, but there is punishment provided for such. They may be dealt with by the law regarding “those who know the poisonous nature of a drug, but sell it as medicine.” So those who know the poisonous nature of morphia, but carelessly sell it, should be ranked as criminals under the above law.

The old opium law, which was repealed, condemned to death by strangling all those who prepared opium or who dealt in opium for gain. No distinction was made between those two classes. So those who prepare morphia and needles, and those who sell them, although they may not be punished with death, yet their crime is essentially the same.

The memorialists have come to the conclusion that all dealers in morphia needles who may be apprehended hereafter, without regard to whether or not they have caused death, shall be dealt with according to the law of “concocting poisons, etc.,” with the penalty of decapitation lightened to that of banishment to remote and unhealthy regions. Shops which deal in morphia, if found to be without the customs permits, shall be treated according to the law of “knowingly dealing in poisons “and given the same punishment as the others, and the shops closed. Also the customs officials must be ordered to make public the treaty regulations and stop the smuggling to remove the root of the evil.

By this openly published law tricky people will be terrorized, and it may be hoped that opium restriction can be thoroughly carried out. If the imperial sanction is obtained, the boards of the memorialists will notify the governor (of Kiangsu) and the various officials concerned, that the regulations may be respected.

This memorial was specially drawn up by the board of law in consultation with the commissioner for the revision of the laws, and has been delayed by the amount of correspondence required, and is now respectfully presented in obedience to the imperial order.