The Chinese Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Wang ) to the American Minister in China ( Johnson )32


Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I have received a despatch, with enclosures, from the Hupeh Provincial Government, reading:

“We have received reports on different occasions from the Hankow Municipal Government, as follows:

‘At 8:30 p.m. on August 11th at the jetty of Melchers & Company there were two sailors from the American gunboat Guam returning from ashore to their boat. One of them arrived at the gangway plank and suddenly knocked down into the water on different occasions four Chinese citizens, namely K’uang Tsaohua, Liu Yüan-sung, T’ang Hsien-fa and Chao Ch’ing-yün, who were walking on the plank. At that time three persons were rescued. The whereabouts of Chao Ch’ing-yün was unknown.

‘At 8:00 a.m. on the 13th a drowned man was found at the said jetty. The body was definitely identified as Chao Ch’ing-yün by his family. The Hankow Local Court and the Municipal Hospital sent representatives to hold an examination, and found that it was true that the man had died by drowning.

‘Aside from filing with the American Consul three terms, namely, punishment of the guilty parties, indemnification for losses, and assurance that no like incident will occur in the future, we have the honor to enclose herewith a photograph of the remains of Chao Ch’ing-yün for your consideration.’

“The Municipal Government was at once instructed to continue strong representations on the basis of the three terms originally filed, and to submit reports. Another report has now been received, stating:

‘Since the facts of this case are irrefutable, and the American naval authorities have persistently shirked their responsibility, it is requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs be asked to make strong representations.’

“Since the Municipal Government has made numerous representations without avail, it is impossible to effect a local settlement. We [Page 705] have the honor to enclose herewith copies of the complete file and the photograph, and to request that you immediately make strong representations.”

This Ministry has carefully perused the complete file of this case. The fact that the Chinese citizen, Chao Ch’ing-yün, was pushed by an American sailor into the water and was drowned has been proved by the testimony given by a policeman on duty at the jetty who witnessed the incident, the remaining three Chinese citizens who were pushed into the water at the same time, and two boatmen who rescued them from the water. Since the drowned body in question has been definitely identified by the family and neighbors, and since the Law Court has held an inquest proving that the man died by drowning, the evidence is irrefutable and the facts are clear. However, the American naval authorities, although they conducted investigations, at first made excuses that witnesses were not all present, and later, merely on the basis of an examination made by a naval physician, considered that the body had been dead for five days and expressed the opinion that the body was not one of those pushed into the water by the American sailor. They have made excuses in order to delay the matter and have persistently shirked their responsibility. It is evident that they have not acted with the slightest sincerity, but they do not know that at the time the Police Station recorded the testimony of the various Chinese witnesses and that copies of the testimony were forwarded to the American Consulate where they could have been examined. Also, several days had elapsed and some of the witnesses had gone to other places; therefore, it was actually impossible to call all the witnesses together. Furthermore, there was no necessity for this.

With regard to the decomposition of the remains, it was due to the extremely hot weather. The physicians when rendering their judgments relied upon their personal opinions. Some of them said that it was two days, while others stated that it was three or five days. In short, neither point is important. It is only necessary for the family of the deceased to identify the body. Moreover, the family of the deceased made a report regarding his disappearance to the Police Station after the occurrence of the incident. Thus without doubt he was the person who was pushed into the water.

Had the American naval authorities really wished to render sincere cooperation, they should have strictly questioned and prosecuted at law one by one the several sailors who went ashore that evening. It would not have been difficult for them to have ascertained the real culprit and punished him according to law. However, beforehand the American naval authorities were unable to restrain their subordinates from being indifferent to Chinese life. After the occurrence of [Page 706] the incident, the authorities again persistently sided with them, thereby causing the matter to remain unsettled for many days, and without result.

This Ministry cannot but file a protest with you, and request that you ask the American Government strictly to instruct the naval authorities in China to take effective action and bring about a settlement as promptly as possible in respect of the following three terms originally filed:

Punishment of guilty parties.
Indemnification of losses.
Assurances that no like incident will occur in the future.

I deeply hope, Mr. Minister, that you will treat this matter as of great importance and will promptly render assistance in an equitable manner, in order that a satisfactory settlement may be reached.

I have the honor to enclose herewith copies of the related correspondence33 and a photograph for your information, and to express the hope that you will give me a reply.

Wang Chao-ming
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in China in his despatch No. 2460, January 9, 1934; received February 10, 1934.
  2. Not printed.