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What should be the action of the missionary body in China with regard to riots, in which any of their members are concerned, whether by loss of property, personal injury or the murder of one or more of their number ? *
BY H. W. BOONE, M.D.
[Protestant Episcopal Mission.] R. CHAIRMAN and gentlemen: In speaking to you this
evening on a subject which is of great importance to us all
I shall not presume to do more than try and bring the matter before you for your consideration and to suggest such thoughts as have occurred to me about it. There are many here present with greater wisdom and experience than I can lay claim to, and if the discussion which is to follow the reading of this paper shall enable us to learn the views of those who are best qualified to guide us and to formulate a suitable plan of united action for the future my purpose will be fully accomplished.
In the first place it will be best to limit this paper and the discussion which is to follow it to the strict consideration of the question as it is brought before us this evening. We are not to go into any of the interesting questions as to whether it is best to open up new stations for work in the interior, the best methods of doing that work, or the modes of preparing for it.
The question before us is : What should be the action of the missionary body in China with regard to riots, in which any of their members are concerned, whether by loss of property, personal injury, or the murder of one or more of their number ?
* Read at the meeting of the Shanghai Missionary Association, held at Shang. bai, November 7, 1893,
We may begin by the statement that the law-abiding foreign missionary has the right ander certain well-known limitations to settle in any town where he may desire to dwell, that he can purchase and lawfully hold such lands and houses as he needs for the proper performance of his regular work. He is fully entitled to the protection of the Chinese authorities in the town or district where he resides. He has the right to inform the Chinese authorities of any ill-treatment which he or his employés may be subjected to, or of any serious danger which he may have reason to believe is about to befall him, also he has the perfect right to request them to protect him from all injury to his person or property. It is the duty of the Chinese authorities to give the foreign missionary the protection he asks for, neither causing nor allowing any one to molest him or to injure his property. The Rev. Dr. Griffith John says: • Officials have it in their power to so protect the missionary that he shall enjoy perfect safety in the pursuit of his lawful calling.'
The dreadful riot, with the murder of two missionaries at Sungpu this summer, is still fresh in our memories. The first shock of horror at the sad tidings has passed, the very natural desire for instant and severe reprisals is now succeeded by calmer thoughts. What should be our action as a missionary body here in China when we are confronted by the question, What is wisest, best, most Christian to do when such a calamity as the Sung-pu riot and murder occurs ?
We should decide such questions as these calmly and deliberately with a full knowledge of our rights and with the desire to act in such a manner as shall tend to prevent the recurrence of such sad and shocking events.
In the first place it is well to remember that when we leave our native lands to live in China as missionaries we in nowise give up our birth-right. The English missionary is still an Englishman and a British subject in the full possession of all his rights as such. The American citizen has not relinquished one iota of his rights and privileges as an American citizen. They both have the same right to claim and to obtain the protection of their respective governments as the consul, the merchant, or any other foreigner residing on these shores. It is of the greatest importance that any steps we may take to bring about a solution of this question should be taken at once. The old saying, "He gives twice who gives quickly,' is applicable here.
My first suggestion is that no new organization is needed to accomplish our object. The local missionary associations throughout China should each one elect one person from each of the several missions of which the association is made up ; men eminent for their
ability and experience in dealing with questions of this very kinl; men like the Rev. Dr. Griffith John, skilled in obtaining information from the Chinese and in weighing their testimony, or men like the Rev. Gilbert Reid, of Shantung, who are well known for their skill and experience in conferring with the local authorities and in bringing complicated and troublesome matters to a definite and satisfactory settlement. The members of these local advisory boards (for giving advice only) could then form, by election from their own numbers one general advisory board for all China. They could confer together and agree upon a joint policy and a plan of action for the entire missionary body, or at least for the very great majority of that body in China. The special advantage of the local boards would be that when a riot occurred at any place in China the persons aggrieved and their missions could consult with the local advisory board without the delay and loss of time which would ensue if the entire general board for the whole country had to be consulted, while at the same time the local board, as a part and parcel of the general board, would act in unison with it and with the policy of the missionary body in China. Acting in this way we could produce such an impression of ability to cope with these evils that the time would be hastened when all such attempts to injure foreigners would cease. The safety of missionaries in China is only a part of the general question of the safety of all foreigners in China. Another point is that all communications to our own Ministers and Consuls in China and to the Chinese authorities would carry greater weight and be listened to with more respect if they were presented through our local or central boards. They would be listened to as the deliberate expressions of the opinion of the entire missionary body acting through its chosen representatives and would therefore gain a respectful hearing where the applications of unknown or of greatly excited persons would meet with but little attention. They would also have greater weight with the home anthorities. If we take wise, strong and dignified methods to attain our objects we can then count upon having the full support and sympathy of all the respectable foreigners in China.
This century is distinguished from its predecessors by the great things which are achieved by the intelligent and united action of large bodies of influential persons. It is one of the proofs of our modern civilization that we have both the good sense and the good faith to co-operate honestly in great ander. takings, to look ahead and be willing to work and wait patiently until great results can be accomplished.
Having established our general advisory board and our local boards (for giving advice and assistance only, and even that only when they are requested to assist) suppose that we are confronted with the facts of a riot. We find, perhaps, that the mass of the Chinese people in the district where the riot has occurred are well disposed towards the foreigners, that the missionaries have had no serious trouble with the people amongst whom they live, that at least in certain cases the riot is instigated by some of the literati and gentry of the district, also that there is great probability that the local officials knew of the likelihood of a disturbance and that they had time enough to prevent the trouble if they had wanted to stop it. The local officials may or may not have aided and abetted the disturbers of the public peace. We find that there is a general disposition on the part of officials, gentry and all concerned in the riot, to suppress the true facts of the case and to evade anything like a searching inquiry into the matter. Assuming now that a riot has occurred I would suggest that the aggrieved parties and their mission should at once communicate with their local advisory board, which has been elected to serve in just such emergencies. Ask for help, put them in full possession of all the facts of the case and act under their guidance and with their assistance and advice. The authorities of the mission which has sustained the injury and the local board having prepared their case could then, if they wish to do so, and only if they wish to act in that way, hold communication with the consul of the injured party, put him in full possession of all the facts about their case which they can obtain, and request that the whole matter be thoroughly sifted to the bottom. If the consul merely leaves the matter in the hands of the Chinese officials, little in the way of a satisfactory adjustment of the matter will be forthcoming. The writer of a leader in the North-China Daily News puts the matter in a nutshell when he says : “The trial should be conducted by a court of Chinese officials and a competent foreign assessor with full power to get all the facts of the case and award even-handed justice. It is my hope that the missionary body
' in China will accept the above advice and that in all cases they will request that, when a riot is to be investigated, the trial shall be conducted by a court of Chinese officials and a competent foreign assessor with full power to get all the facts of the case and award even-handed justice.
Supposing that we get the matter fully investigated in the above way what should be our object in demanding reparation for our losses ? Our feelings after such an outrage as the one we now have under consideration are of deepest sorrow for the sufferers and of pity for the offenders. It cannot be in the heart of any missionary to wish for vengeance. We see that we have a duty to perform, we are to ask for reparation and for such an administration of even