893.102 Ic/28

The Minister in China (Schurman) to the Secretary of State

No. 45

Sir: With reference to the Department’s telegraphic instruction of August 26, 11 a.m., No. 238, and previous correspondence regarding the Ichang situation, I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of the circular of the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps of August 30, 1921, No. 150, which contains the text of a note on the subject which the Dean addressed on that day to the Minister for Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Diplomatic Body, together with the text of a letter, dated August 29th, which Mr. Ruddock addressed to the Dean in pursuance of the Department’s instruction under reference.7

There are further enclosed copies of Dean Circular No. 156, of September 24, 1921, giving the reply of the Chinese Government to the Dean’s note of August 30th.8 In commenting upon this circular, I have simply noted that I was transmitting the text of Dr. Yen’s [Page 517] communication to my Government for such instructions as it might deem suitable. I accordingly have the honor to request the Department’s views in the premises.

I have [etc.]

Jacob Gould Schurman
[Enclosure 1]

The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps (De Freitas) to the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs (W. W. Yen)

Monsieur le Ministre: I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that the Diplomatic Body feel it incumbent upon them to draw the very serious attention of the Chinese Government to the deep apprehension felt by the Foreign Legations in view of the numerous recent instances where Chinese troops comprising portions of either the national or provincial organizations have openly rebelled against the duly constituted military authorities, and have in a lawless and wanton manner plundered the property of foreigners and placed their lives in danger. The mutinies and looting at Ichang on November 30, 1921 [1920], and June 3, 1921, and that at Wuchang on June 7, 1921, although by no means the only instances to be cited, afford the most striking examples in recent months. These occurrences unavoidably cast doubt on the ability or the efforts of the higher provincial authorities to afford adequate protection to foreign residents and trade in the regions of their respective jurisdiction.

The Diplomatic Body desire further to point out that the conditions under which the looting took place appear to continue without abatement, and that foreign nationals engaged in business at Ichang and other places open to trade as well as their merchandise en route in the interior and also foreign missionaries resident at isolated places are all in danger from the depredations of the great numbers of troops found throughout the provinces.

The Diplomatic Body feel obliged therefore in the face of these perils to their nationals to warn the Chinese Government that the Foreign Powers will insist that the Chinese Government hold the higher military authorities personally and individually responsible for any damage that may be caused to any foreign interests either by the action or failure to act of troops under their respective commands in territories under their protection.

The Powers, for their part, hereby declare to the Chinese Government that no refuge or asylum will be given by their respective authorities [Page 518] either in their own countries or in any concession, settlement, leased territory, or other territory in China under their control to any Chinese official adjudged by the Diplomatic Body guilty in the manner indicated. Moreover, the Powers inform the Chinese Government that they reserve the right of exacting from the Chinese Government punitive damages for any such injuries to the persons or properties of their nationals resulting from a neglect of this warning.

It is to be understood that the Diplomatic Body consider themselves free to act in the sense of the foregoing paragraph in regard to the recent mutinies at Ichang and Wuchang.

I avail myself [etc.]

J. B. de Freitas
[Enclosure 2—Translation]

The Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs (W. W. Yen) to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps (De Freitas)

Monsieur le Ministre: I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s Note dated the 30th. August, in which it is stated that recently the Chinese troops have several times rebelled against the duly constituted military authorities and have plundered the property of the foreigners and placed their lives in danger, and that it is requested that the Chinese Government will hold the higher military authorities personally and individually responsible.

In reply I have the honour to state that this Ministry has notified the different provincial authorities to pay more attention to preventing further disturbances and at the same time the matter was brought up for discussion at a Cabinet meeting. On the petition of the Cabinet, the President has despatched circular telegrams to the different provinces, instructing the provincial high military and civil authorities to strictly warn and control the troops, so that there may not be any further occurrence of mutinies or disorder, and that in the event of any more disturbances breaking out, the said military and civil authorities shall be held responsible and no leniency be shown them.

Since regarding this matter, my Government has already issued strict warnings to the military and civil authorities of the different provinces, therefore, the reservation of the right to exact punitive damages as stated in Your Excellency’s Note need not enter into discussion.

I avail myself [etc.]

W. W. Yen
  1. Only that part of circular 150 containing the note of Aug. 30 addressed by the dean to the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been printed.
  2. Only that part of circular 156 containing the reply of the Chinese Government has been printed.