According to prevailing historical opinion, the United States made reasonable claims against China after the Boxer rising in 1900 and later spontaneously remitted the surplus indemnity as an act of friendship. In gratitude, the Chinese freely determined to use the returned funds to educate Chinese in the United States. The records of the Chinese foreign office and the Department of State suggest a different story. In 1901 John Hay intentionally inflated American claims against China despite protests that his demand of $25,000,000 was excessive (in fact twice real claims). After three years of persistent effort, the Chinese Minister to the United States committed the reluctant Roosevelt administration to return of the surplus. But W. W. Rockhill, the Minister in Peking, feared the Chinese would squander the money and campaigned to have the funds devoted exclusively to education even though the Chinese government preferred projects of more immediate benefit. In 1908 Yuan Shih-k'ai and Hsu Shih-ch'ang sent a subordinate, T'ang Shao-i, to Washington to propose use of the funds in Manchuria. However, the Roosevelt administration, already won by the education scheme, rebuffed T'ang. The remission was accomplished essentially on American terms in 1909.

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