New York Herald
June 3, 1900
As an American Chinaman Views Situation.
by Sun Yow Pang
China’s present situation maybe best shown by defining the warring parties in China. They are the Ye Ho Chuan, a society commonly known to English speaking nations as the “Boxers,” and the reform party, the Bow Wong Wui. The reformers are the ardent supporters of the young Emperor, Kwang Hsu. They stand for civilization and for progress.
The “Boxers” stand secretly behind the Empress Dowager, Gno La She, and it is believed she sympathizes with their atrocities. They hate the young Emperor and all foreigners, especially Christians, with a bitter hatred. They are fighting tooth and nail against the spread of Christianity in China.
The Empress, who is now about sixty-six years old, is afraid of losing her power. She represents the very essence of the old regime and knows little of the outside world. She fears most of all the partitioning of China by the European Powers. The young Emperor and his supporters feel confident that if they were allowed to govern China its old power would return and it would soon be regarded as a first class Power. They believe if Kwang Hsu were in power the other nations would keep their hands off China.
Although the Empress selected the present Emperor to succeed to the throne, she has become jealous of his growing power and has violently opposed every movement for progress which he has encouraged. It has even been charged, and is generally believed, that she plotted to bring about the murder of her nephew, Kwang Hsu, the present Emperor.
The enlightened Chinese, almost to a man, favor the young Emperor and the reformers. Kwang Hsu’s chief adviser, the leader of the reform party, Kwang Yu Wai, has done more for China and the common people than any other man of the present generation.
During the six months of the young Emperor’s unhampered reign all movements for social and political advancement were encouraged and not a single outrage was committed on the Christian missions. The common people had the hitherto unheard of privilege of appealing to the Emperor in person and stating their grievances.
But the Empress soon tired of this and interfered. She instructed all high officials to disregard her nephew’s orders and promised to protect and promote them in the government service. Then she ordered the execution of six of Kwang Hsu’s leading supporters.
Two of these, who are now spreading the propaganda of the reformers, escaped. They are Kwang Yu Wai and Liung Kai Chu, his principal lieutenant. Kwang Yu Wai escaped from Shanghai to Hong Kong and thence to Japan by means of a British man-of-war, and Liung Kai Chu was spared the sword through the Japanese Legation’s sheltering doors.
Tom Tse Tong, one of the reform leaders beheaded, might have escaped also. But it had been said that the reason reform did not prosper in China was that no blood had been shed in its cause. The other party boasted that none of the Emperor’s supporters was patriot enough to lay down his life in the cause of liberty. So Tom Tse Tong said:—
“Let my head go for China. My blood shall be shed for progress, and thousands will then rise up and fight for Kwang Hsu and the right.”
So he remained and became a victim of the headsman’s swords. He was a Christian, and many of the reform party are of that faith.
The old Empress, restored to power, quietly reinstated the old officials and the old conditions obtained. All movements looking toward progress and civilization, toward social and political advancement and the freedom of thought and speech were effectively checked for the time, and outrages on the Christian missionaries were allowed to pass unpunished.
Then the “Boxers” organized their secret society. They circulated posters through Chilli and Shang Tung provinces, saying:—
“We are for the Manchurian dynasty and would expel every foreigner.”
With fire and sword they waged secret warfare on the missionaries, burned down the mission houses and cut off the heads of the Chinese converts to Christianity and destroyed whole villages. The English nickname “Boxers” was applied to them simply because they were pugilistic—fighting men. The names of the leaders and, in fact, of all the members were carefully guarded, and even now are not known. Their number is comparatively small, but as the government takes no steps to suppress them they are naturally increasing their membership.
Meanwhile Kwang Hsu Wai had gone to Hong Kong o a British war ship, and finding that he was not safe there, had journeyed to Japan. In yokohama he established a periodical, in which he described the Empress as a would be murderess. He advocated the cause of the young Emperor and called him the best of all China’s rulers.
He carried the propaganda of the reformers to British Columbia, and thousands of the Chinese residents there hailed him as “the savior of China” and flocked to his standard. He started there a branch of the Bow Wong Wui, the reform society, and several thousand members are now enrolled on its books. In fact, the majority of the Chinese in British Columbia are members of that organization. He then returned to Japan, and from there went to Hong Kong. But the old Empress, stung to the quick by the vituperative language Kwang Hsu Wai had used toward her in his Japanese periodical, and frenzied at the activity of his Bow Wong Wui campaign abroad, set a price of $160,000 upon his head.
So Kwang Yu Wai realized that he was no longer safe in Hong Kong and went to Singapore, where a large number of the reform party had sought sanctuary. He is now in Siam, where many recruits have been received for the reform ranks.
The Chinese reformers throughout the world are no engaged in purchasing modern weapons of war, preparatory to an uprising in Kwang Hsu’s behalf in the event of his imprisonment or death.
An active branch of the reform party exists in San Francisco, and Liung Kai Chu, the other reform leader, who is now in Hawaii, intends to to visit San Francisco in the near future. The American members of the Chinese Diplomatic Corps are using every influence they can command to keep the Chinese residents in America from joining the reform party, and will prevent, if they can, the landing of Liung Kai Chu on American shores.
He is not afraid of death, however, and declares that he will sail for San Francisco as soon as Honolulu is free from the bubonic plague. A price of $60,000 has been set upon his head by the Empress. But despite the warnings of the Empress emissaries in America, thousands of the Chinese residents have openly attended meetings in favor of the Bow Wong Wui and are wearing the ribbon badge of the reform society