Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Gresham.
Peking, June 15, 1894. (Received July 27, 1894.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith copies of a note addressed by the Russian minister, dean of the diplomatic body, to the Yamên, and of the Yamên’s reply, with reference to antiforeign placards which have again appeared in the province of Hu-pei.
Copies of these placards were forwarded by the consular corps at Hankow to the diplomatic body at Peking, and a protest against them was placed before the viceroy at Hankow.
These placards at present complained of differ from previous attacks on foreigners in that they do not advocate their abuse and ill treatment directly, but denounce and threaten vengeance on all Chinese who may have relations with “the barbarians,” and particularly those who may sell or lease them land. In a handbill posted up in the Sung-pu district it is stated that “foreigners may, in accordance with the laws of hospitality, be boarded and lodged, but any innkeeper who dares to keep them more than a few days will, on discovery, have his house razed to the ground and his land converted to the public use.”
It is also directed that foreigners’ books must not be bought, and that those who buy them shall “be dealt with by the people.”
This handbill threatens with death anyone who sells land to foreigners. It closes with the announcement, “If anyone in his greed for gain permits a foreigner to build other houses, the headman is to inform us; we will destroy them and thus prevent future calamities.”
The proclamations in the other localities are of the same character.
The people of Sung-pu and vicinity, frightened by the terrible calamities which the official investigation of the murder of the Swedish missionaries last year brought upon them, seem determined on a policy of absolute nonintercourse with foreigners. They regard the presence of a missionary or a chapel as a source from which at any moment great disasters may arise, and there can be no doubt of the efficacy of their preventive measures. These proclamations, however, tend directly to excite active hostility to foreigners, andit is to be hoped that the authorities will use vigorous means to suppress them.
I have, etc.,