HC Deb 22 March 1844 vol 73 cc1367-8
Dr. Bowring

wished to inquire of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government whether any reply had been received from the Government of Pekin in answer to the application made for the punishment of the authorities of the Island of Formosa who ordered the murder of the crews of the Nerbudda and Ann?

Sir R. Peel

said, that the two vessels had been wrecked on the Island of Formosa, and that after the sailors had defended themselves for a time, they had been taken prisoners, subjected to great privations, and many of them put to death,—whether by the Chinese authorities or not he did not know. Sir Henry Pottinger made a representation to the Emperor of China on the subject, and it was stated that the Chinese Government viewed the unfortunate transaction with great regret, and had ordered that punishment should be inflicted on the parties who sanctioned the murder. Upon the whole, the statement made on the subject was satisfactory. The declaration of the Emperor was one quite becoming (the ruler of a great country. The Proclamation was inserted by the order of the Emperor in the Pekin Gazette, and Sir H. Pottinger spoke of it in the highest terms. He stated, that he had seen with the greatest pleasure the decree of the Chinese Government on the subject of the British subjects who had been unjustly put to death in the Island of Formosa, and was sure that the proof of a sense of justice which it displayed would be highly satisfactory to his Government. He had seen a translation of the Proclamation, and he thought that a stronger desire to do justice had never been shown in a civilized state. The Emperor stated in the Proclamation That he had been deceived by the Chinese authorities of Formosa, who represented that the Island had been invaded by the British crews with arms in their hands, and that they were taken and had suffered as prisoners of war. He had ordered the Governor-General of the district to institute an inquiry, and in the result of finding that the officers had deceived him and falsified their statements, he had ordered all those who by their false representations had obtained a promotion of rank to be degraded from it and handed over to the board of punishment. The Emperor went on to say, We cherish the Chinese and foreigners with equal beneficence, and will not allow those who have become amenable to punishment to escape because they are accused by foreigners. It is our desire to act with strict justice and impartiality. The culprits had been disgraced after having been convicted by the regular authorities; and the tone of the Proclamation indicated a sincere intention to facilitate intercourse with civilized nations.

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