Letter (2) from Huang Zun Xian, the former Consul General in San Francisco, to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Victoria
I read your letter, knowing that the Parliament of British Columbia passed a new law to increase the rate of head tax on every Chinese, new comers or current residents, merchants or workers. I reported it to the Honorable Minister, who addressed a protesting note to the Foreign Ministry of England last month. Please find attached a copy of this note.
It reminds me of the time when I was Consul General in San Francisco in 1884, the Parliament of British Columbia had passed a very harsh discriminating law against Chinese. You sent four representatives to San Francisco to require for help, I instructed you to unite all the Chinese in Victoria, and hire lawyers to bring in a lawsuit. Meanwhile I explained all the matters to the envoy of the Canadian Foreign Ministry, who happened to be in San Francisco on duty. It was fortunate that this law was abolished later, and the interests of Chinese were not inflicted. Anyway I forwarded your case to the Honorable Zeng. He told me that it was difficult to argue in London, because, firstly, there are no terms in Sino-British treaties that Chinese who reside in the British dependencies enjoy rights to most-favored-nation; secondly, unlike the Chinese central government governing the 18 provinces, the British dependencies like Australia, Canada have semi-sovereign rights, the British Government can not abolish their laws. It was, therefore, more effective to argue against it in British Columbia by the Chinese who reside there. I was off my position in 1886 and left San Francisco. The law that forbade Chinese to enter British Columbia was passed and came into force till now. This year there was debate in the Canadian Parliament whether to increase the rate of head tax to $100 on each Chinese. It was not passed fortunately. The Honorable Xie cares a lot of the Chinese in British Columbia, he knows that there are not too many business opportunities except gold mining and fishery, especially after the completion of the railway, many Chinese workers would be jobless, they can not bear the heavy taxes on them. Consequently, he addressed a note to the British Government, in which the Australian case was mentioned as well, intending for the abolition of the bad laws. His Honor particularly instructs me to forward a copy of this note to you for your knowledge. If in future there are more discriminating laws against Chinese, please first hire lawyers to enter a lawsuit, and write to me in details, advising me what really happens. Do remember to attach the original English documents.
Please send my best regards to all of you
Huang Zun Xian