The Consul General at Hankow (Heintzleman) to the Secretary of State

No. 30

Sir: On March 29, 1920, I received a telegram from the Legation at Peking quoting one from the Department wherein I was instructed [Page 795] to report by mail regarding a Tokyo press despatch received in the United States to the effect that two Chinese coolies had been killed by American sailors in the landing party which had been put ashore on the British Concession, Kiukiang, during the disturbance there on March 14, 1920; the press report further stated that as a result of the incident there was intense local feeling against Americans and Europeans.

In compliance with the above instruction, I have the honor to refer to my despatches to the Legation, Nos. 43 and 45 of March 18, and March 20, 1920,48 respectively, on the subject of the recent disorders at Kiukiang. As the Department will recall, these despatches recounted the circumstances under which a party was landed from the U.S.S. Elcano and Samar. It was also reported therein that two Chinese coolies had been slightly injured at the time by coming in contact with American sailors.

In connection with the Chinese injured by American sailors during the incident, I have received two despatches, dated March 19, 1920, and March 20, 1920, from the Civil Governor of Kiangsi Province on the subject; copies thereof in translation are enclosed.49 The Department will note that in the first despatch the complaint is made that Chen Hung-mei, a coolie, and Liao Chia-ping, a merchant, were wounded by American soldiers. In the second despatch it is charged that a Chinese, Tao Chang-sen, was stabbed by one of our sailors. The Civil Governor requests that the commanders of the two naval vessels find out those guilty of the offenses named in order that they may be punished; also, that the commanders be asked to meet the expenses incurred for medical treatment, and in addition pay solatium to the Chinese injured.

I sent copies of the two communications of the Civil Governor to the British Consul at Kiukiang requesting him to verify the statements made therein and inform me as to the extent of the injuries sustained by Chinese at the hands of American sailors. I am informed by Mr. Kirke in a letter, dated April 1, 1920, that the three persons mentioned by the Civil Governor were wounded very slightly; that Chen Hung-mei and Tao Chang-sen have been in the French Hospital; that the former had left recently quite recovered; and that the latter some days since had pulled his dressings off and infected his wounds slightly which has retarded his recovery; he was still in the hospital but doing well. Mr. Kirke further stated that the man Liao Chia-pin was examined by a doctor who expressed the opinion that the wounds were possibly inflicted after the riot; he refused to be taken to the hospital and has since disappeared.

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Also, it is Mr. Kirke’s view that neither the American naval authorities nor the British authorities at Kiukiang were under any obligation to give these men medical treatment at all; they were wounded unintentionally in a civil commotion and probably because they were too sulky and obstinate to move quickly enough. He added, however, that the hospital fees were small and that the Municipality of the British Concession was paying such expenses as were incurred. Mr. Kirke thinks that in the circumstances the payment of solatium is out of the question; the men have already had far better treatment than they deserved. Mr. Kirke concluded that he and the other members of the community were extremely grateful to the American naval forces for the assistance which they rendered.

I have no hesitancy in accepting the statements of the British Consul, and from his statements as well as those contained in the despatches of the Civil Governor, even though the latter are exaggerated, it is clearly seen that the Japanese press reports that Chinese were killed are untrue. As to the statement in the press report that the incident has aroused intense Chinese feeling against Americans and Europeans in Kiukiang, I may add that this assertion as well is false. I am told by American naval officers, who have been in the port recently, as well as American, British, and other foreign civilians residing there that there are no signs of anti-American or anti-foreign feeling on the part of either the official’s or the populace.

I have replied to the despatches of the Civil Governor of Kiangsi in the light of the information furnished by the British Consul at Kiukiang, as reported above. I am hopeful of being able to obtain a settlement of this matter locally.

I have [etc.]

P. S. Heintzleman
  1. Neither found in Department files.
  2. Not printed.