393.1123 Seymour, Walter F./22

Memorandum by the Counselor of Legation in China (Perkins) of a Conversation With the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs (C. T. Wang), January 24, 1929, at Nanking83

I called on Dr. Wang by appointment at his residence at 9 a.m. and took up with him the case of Dr. Seymour who was murdered by Chinese soldiers in April, 1928, at Tsining, Shantung. I took occasion to remark that we felt a good deal of dissatisfaction with the way in which this case had been handled by the National Government, not necessarily because the actual murderers had not been apprehended, but because there had apparently been shown no disposition by the National Government to take any genuine interest in the case, to meet the issues involved, or to deal seriously with the specific evidence which had been brought to its attention. I pointed out that, after a period of some nine months, the last note from the Foreign Office merely stated that an investigation had been made, the result of which indicated that Dr. Seymour had been killed by a stray bullet. This was contrary to the specific evidence which had been obtained at the time of the murder, and the Chinese reply made no attempt to deal with this evidence or to make any adequate response to our requests that justice be done in this matter.

In spite of the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs had himself signed the note to which I referred, Dr. Wang then stated that he himself did not believe that Dr. Seymour had been killed by a stray bullet; and he proceeded to give his version of a personal investigation which he had attempted to make in this case at the time when he was in Shantung shortly after the incident occurred and before [Page 874] he had been appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. This version was to the effect that the first group of Feng’s soldiers who met Dr. Seymour had held some conversation with him and had then passed on without doing him any injury. Shortly after they left him they heard a shot and, looking back, saw a man, who could not be identified, running away. I said that our report of the incident was similar to this insofar as the first group of soldiers was concerned, but that there had been a second group who had killed Dr. Seymour and had then robbed his body. I went on to say that we would have felt differently about the case if some such report as this had been made and if we had been convinced that it had been impossible to find the guilty parties. Our feeling of disappointment lay chiefly in the fact that there had been no genuine attempt to do justice. Dr. Wang then said that after the Japanese incident in the early part of May, everyone forgot everything else in the excitement caused by that affair and this served to explain why more attention had not been given to the Seymour case at the time.

I then mentioned to Dr. Wang that the impression created by the failure to do justice in this case was far-reaching in its implications and could not but create a certain amount of belief as to the general inability of the Chinese Government to do justice in cases of this kind. Dr. Wang then inquired if more specific evidence than we had already submitted could not be obtained as to the identity of the group of soldiers concerned in this incident. I received the impression that Dr. Wang was trying to make the best of a bad case and that he appreciated a mistake had been made in their attitude towards this affair. By requesting more evidence after this lapse of time, however, I did not feel that Dr. Wang was displaying a bona fide interest in the case and I did not attempt to exact any definite promise from him as to what would be done, preferring to leave the impression that we were pretty much disillusioned as to their intentions in the matter and that a very definite impression had been created that there was a lack of any genuine purpose even to attempt to do justice in this case.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in China in his despatch No. 1978, March 13; received April 15, 1929.