A Legal History of Chinese-Americans
- Treaty of Wang Hya, 1844
This is the first treaty between U S. and China and U.S. which extended to the United States trading privileges equal to those enjoyed by Britain, opened certain Chinese "treaty ports, cities and towns of Canton, Amoy, Foochowfoo, Ningpo, and Shanghai, and provided "extraterritorial jurisdiction" to Americans in China. It provides inter alia:
Article XXI, Subjects of China who may be guilty of any criminal act toward citizens of the United States shall be arrested and punished by the Chinese authorities according to the laws of China, and citizens of the United States who may commit any crime in China shall be subject to be tried and punished only by the Consul or other public functionary of the United States thereto authorized according to the laws of the United States. And in order to prevent all controversy and disaffection, justice shall be equitably and impartially administered by both sides....
Article XXV. All questions in regard to rights, whether of property or person, arising between citizens of the United States in China shall be subject to the jurisdiction of and regulated by the authorities of their own Government; and all controversies occurring in China between the citizens of the United States and the subjects of any other Government shall be regulated by the Treaties existing between the United States and such Governments, respectively, without interference on the part of China.
- Treaty of Tien-Tsin, 1858
The treaty of peace, amity and commerce between the United States of America and the Empire of China lists rights and privileges of American citizens in China. It provides inter alia:
ARTICLE I. There shall be, as there have always been, peace and friendship between the United States of America and the [Chinese] Empire, and between their people, respectively. They shall not insult or oppress each other for any trifling cause, so as to produce an estrangement between them; and if any other nation should act unjustly or oppressively, the United States will exert their good offices, on being informed of the case, to bring about an amicable arrangement of the question, thus showing their friendly feelings.
ARTICLE XI. All citizens of the United States of America in China, peaceably attending to their affairs, being placed on a common footing of amity and good will with the subjects of China, shall receive and enjoy for themselves and everything appertaining to them, the protection of the local authorities of Government, who shall defend them from all insult or injury of any sort. If their dwellings or property be threatened or attacked by mobs, incendiaries, or other violent or lawless persons, the local officers, on requisition of the Consul, shall immediately despatch a military force to disperse the rioters, apprehend the guilty individuals, and punish them with the utmost rigor of the law. Subjects of China guilty of any criminal act toward citizens of the United States shall be punished by the Chinese authorities according to the laws of China; and citizens of the United States, either on shore or in any merchant vessel, who may insult, trouble or wound the persons or injure the property of Chinese, or commit any other improper act in China, shall be punished only by the Consul or other public functionary thereto authorized, according to the laws of the United States [extraterritorial jurisdiction]. Arrests in order to trial may be made by either the Chinese or the United States authorities.
ARTICLE XII. Citizens of the United States, residing or sojourning at any of the ports open to foreign commerce, shall be permitted to rent houses and places of business, or hire sites on which they can themselves build houses or hospitals, churches and cemeteries. The parties interested can fix the rent by mutual and equitable agreement; the proprietors shall not demand an exorbitant price, nor shall the local authorities interfere, unless there be some objections offered on the part of the inhabitants respecting the place. The legal fees to the officers for applying their seal shall be paid. The citizens of the United States shall not unreasonably insist on particular spots, but each party shall conduct with justice and moderation. Any desecration of the cemeteries by natives of China shall be severely punished according to law. At the places where the ships of the United States anchor, or their citizens reside, the merchants, seamen or others, can freely pass and repass in the immediate neighborhood; but, in order to the preservation of the public peace, they shall not go into the country to the villages and marts to sell their goods unlawfully, in fraud of the revenue.
ARTICLE XIV. The citizens of the United States are permitted to frequent the ports and cities of Canton and Chau-chau . . . Amoy, Fuh-chau, and Tai-wan . . . . Ningpo . . . and Shanghai . . . and any other port or place hereafter by treaty with other powers or with the United States opened to commerce, and to reside with their families and trade there, and to proceed at pleasure with their vessels and merchandise from any of these ports to any other of them. But said vessels shall not carry on a clandestine and fraudulent trade at other ports of China not declared to be legal, or along the coasts thereof; and any vessel under the American flag violating this provision, shall, with her cargo, be subject to confiscation to the Chinese Government; and any citizen of the United States who shall trade in any contraband article of merchandise shall be subject to be dealt with by the Chinese Government, without being entitled to any countenance or protection from that of the United States; and the United States will take measures to prevent their flag from being abused by the subjects of other nations as a cover for the violation of the laws of the empire.
- Treaty of Peace, Amity, and Commerce, 1868
Also known as Burlingame Treaty, signed at Washington July 28, 1868, as Additional Articles to the Treaty between the United States of America and the Ta-Tsing Empire of the 18 th of June 1958 [Treaty of Tien-Tsin]. It provides inter alia:
ARTICLE I. His Majesty the Emperor of China, being of the opinion that, in making concessions to the citizens or subjects of foreign Powers of the privilege of residing on certain tracts of land, or resorting to certain waters of that empire for purposes of trade, he has by no means relinquished his right of eminent domain or dominion over the said land and water, hereby agrees that no such concession or grant shall be construed to give to any Power or party which may be at war with or hostile to the United States the right to attack the citizens of the United States or their property within the said lands or waters; and the United States from resisting an attack by any hostile Power or party upon their citizens or their property, It is further agreed that if any right or interest in any tract of land in China has been or shall hereafter be granted by the Government of China to the United States or their citizens for purposes of trade or commerce, that grant shall in no event be construed to divest the Chinese authorities of their right of jurisdiction over persons and property within said tract of land, except so far as that right may have been expressly relinquished by treaty.
ARTICLE III. The Emperor of China shall have the right to appoint consuls at ports of the United States, who shall enjoy the same privileges and immunities as those enjoyed by public law and treaty in the United States by the consuls of Great Britain and Russia, or either of them.
ARTICLE IV. . . . Chinese subjects in the United States shall enjoy entire liberty of conscience and shall be exempt from all disability or persecution on account of their religious faith or worship in either country. Cemeteries for sepulture of the dead of whatever nativity or nationality shall be held in respect and free from disturbance or profanation.
ARTICLE V. The United States of America and the Emperor of China cordially recognize the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration of their citizens and subjects respectively from the one country to the other, for purposes of curiosity, of trade, or as permanent residents. The high contracting parties, therefore, join in reprobating any other than an entirely voluntary emigration for these purposes. They consequently agree to pass laws making it a penal offence for a citizen of the United States or Chinese subjects to take Chinese subjects either to the United States or to any other foreign country, or for a Chinese subject or citizen of the United States to take citizens of the United States to China or to any other foreign country, without their free and voluntary consent respectively.
ARTICLE VI. Citizens of the Untied States visiting or residing in China shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities or exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation, and, reciprocally, Chinese subjects visiting or residing in the United States shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities and exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the the most favored nation. But nothing herein contained shall be held to confer naturalization upon citizens of the United States in China, nor upon the subjects of China in the United States.
ARTICLE VII. Citizens of the United States shall enjoy all the privileges of the public educational institutions under the control of the government of China, and reciprocally, Chinese subjects shall enjoy all the privileges of the public educational institutions under the control of the government of the United States, which are enjoyed in the respective countries by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation. The citizens of the United States may freely establish and maintain schools within the Empire of China at those places where foreigners are by treaty permitted to reside, and, reciprocally, Chinese subjects may enjoy the same privileges and immunities in the United States.
- Treaty Concerning Immigration 1880
Treaty between the United States and China, concerning immigration. Concluded November 17, 1880
A treaty amended the Treaty of 1868 to restrict Chinese labor immigration. It provides inter alia:
ARTICLE I. .Whenever in the opinion of the Government of the United States, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States, or their residence therein, affects or threatens to affect the interests of that country, or to endanger the good order of the said country or of any locality within the territory thereof, the Government of China agrees that the Government of the United States may regulate, limit, or suspend such coming or residence, but may not absolutely prohibit it. The limitation or suspension shall be reasonable and shall apply only to Chinese who may go to the United States as laborers, other classes not being included in the limitation. Legislation taken in regard to Chinese laborers will be of such a character only as is necessary to enforce the regulation, limitation, or suspension of immigration, and immigrants shall not be subject to personal maltreatment or abuse.
ARTICLE II, Chinese subjects, whether proceeding to the United States as teachers, students, merchants or from curiosity, together with their body and household servants, and Chinese laborers who are now in the United States shall be allowed to go and come of their own free will and accord, and shall be accorded all the rights, privileges, immunities, and exemptions which are accorded to the citizens and subjects of the most favored nation.
If Chinese laborers, or Chinese of any other class, now wither permanently or temporarily residing in the territory of the United States, meet with ill treatment at the hands of any other persons, the Government of the United States will exert all its power to devise measures for their protection and to secure to them the same rights, privileges, immunities, and exemptions as may be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation, and to which they are entitled by treaty.
Back to Laws