393.1123 Simpson, William E./52

Memorandum by the American Minister in China (Johnson) of a Conversation With the Chinese Political Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs (Hsu)62

At the time of my call upon Dr. Hsu Mo this morning, I referred to the Legation’s Formal Note No. 660, of October 18, 1933, and to previous correspondence concerning the Simpson murder case, and [Page 542] expressed the hope that the Foreign Office had taken steps to insure that Ma Jen-hua,63 Fan Yung-te and Ma Wei-ho be speedily tried and punished. I pointed out that these three men had long since been designated by the Kansu authorities as the parties responsible for Simpson’s murder but that they had later been subjected to a rather farcical trial by a court-martial, which decided that since the three culprits denied their complicity in the murder, there was insufficient evidence to convict them.

I pointed out to Dr. Hsu that the American Consul General had supplied to the Kansu authorities the most detailed information as to the movements of Ma Jen-hua and his bandit band, their possession and open sale of numerous articles looted from the truck which was being driven by the murdered American, and other pertinent information, which would appear very clearly to establish the guilt of these men. I observed that the Kansu authorities on one occasion wrote to the American Consul General at Hankow, asking that he bear in mind that the Kansu Provincial authorities could not punish military men for their crimes; that at the same time the Kansu Government was conducting anti-bandit activities and was executing a number of bandit leaders, yet showed a most surprising reluctance to proceed against these three ex-soldiers, whom the Kansu authorities themselves first designated as the chief culprits in the case.

I also took occasion to reiterate that unless those who murdered the late Henry Ekvall and William Ekvall Simpson, and other foreigners in Kansu and Shensi are apprehended and punished, no foreigner will be safe in those areas and the lawless element there will be definitely encouraged in the belief that foreigners may be murdered or robbed with impunity and with little likelihood that any serious punishment will be meted out to the guilty parties.

Dr. Hsu stated that he would inquire into the latest developments in this case, taking appropriate action. I informed him that upon my return to Nanking, early in December, I would hope to hear that the guilty men had been duly tried and punished to the fullest extent of the law.64

  1. The First Secretary of Legation in China was also present. A copy of the memorandum was transmitted to the Department by the Counselor of Legation in his despatch of November 18 from Nanking; received December 18.
  2. Also known as Ma Jung-hua.
  3. The Chinese Foreign Office on May 26, 1934, announced the execution on March 1 of Ma Jung-hua and sentences of life imprisonment for his two lieutenants on April 9 (393.1123 Simpson, William E./55). No property loss claims were admitted (393.1123 Simpson, William E./65). The Department, in its despatch No. 170, May 14, 1936, to the Ambassador in China, concurred in Embassy’s suggestion that the case be listed for eventual submission to a Claims Commission (393.1123 Simpson, William E./66).