Exchange Database

The Bayard-Zhang Treat of 1888

Early in 1888, the United States and China signed the Bayard-Zhang Treaty, by which the Qing agreed to prohibit all new Chinese migration for 20 years and limited the classes of Chinese who could return to the United States after a trip home. The agreement did not violate the Burlingame Treaty of 1868 because the United States did not institute the prohibitions, but it drew opposition from the Chinese populace. However, before the treaty was ratified, Congress passed the Scott Act, which canceled the right of return for Chinese residents who left the United States for any reason.
Chinese in the United States challenged the Act as being unconstitutional because it contravened prior treaties, but with no success. The California Circuit Court ruled that Congress could modify any treaty at any time, and the Supreme Court found that, although the Scott Act did contravene the treaties, control over immigration was a sovereign right and thus Congress had the authority to act as it saw fit regardless of any international agreements. This position stood in stark contrast to the U.S. insistence on extraterritorial rights and trading privileges in China that had been enshrined in prior treaties.
Type of Exchange: 
United States and Chinese Governments
United States and Chinese Governments
Participants (Types): 
American and Chinese politicians
Exchange Date: 
Sunday, January 1, 1888
Level of Government: 
Washington, DC
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