HC Deb 21 April 1898 vol 56 c666
MR. JOHNSON-FERGUSSON (Leicester, Loughborough)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether the Treaties between this country and China secure to the trade of this country with China most-favoured-nation treatment; (2) whether the provision in the agreement concluded between the Chinese Government and the Russo-Chinese Bank for the construction of the Manchurian Railway, whereby goods imported from Russia into China by rail, and exported from China to Russia in the same manner, shall pay respectively an import or export Chinese duty to the extent of one-third less as compared with the duty imposed at Chinese seaport custom houses, is a violation of the Treaty rights of this country; and (3) whether Her Majesty's Government have made representations to China on the subject?


The answer to the first paragraph is in the affirmative. As regards the second paragraph, the mere fact that there is a difference of tariff between land and sea frontiers does not of itself constitute a breach of the most-favoured-nation clause. Indeed, such a difference already exists in the case of our own Burmah-Chinese frontier, under Article IX. of the 1894 Convention. Whether the practical operation of such a difference would, under certain circumstances, constitute an infraction of our Treaty rights is a separate question, which has not, in our judgment, arisen in the case either of the northern or the southern land frontier of the Chinese Empire.

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