HC Deb 10 March 1898 vol 54 cc1231-2

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government have confirmation of the statements which have been reported from Pekin: that Russia has demanded the cession of Port Arthur and Talienwan; that Russia has demanded the right to make a railway across Manchuria to Mukden and Port Arthur, with power to send Russian troops to the railway stations on this line; that Russia is actively opposing the conclusion of the Anglo-German loan to China; that Russia has demanded the dismissal of British engineers on Chinese railways; and that Russia has obtained from Korea the cession of Deer Island, opposite Fusam?


Her Majesty's Ambassador at St. Petersburg has been informed by the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs that Russia is negotiating with China for the lease for a certain number of years of Port Arthur and Talienwan, as well as for the construction of a railway to Talienwan or Port Arthur on the same conditions as the Manchurian railway; the Russian Government have made no demand for sovereign rights over those ports, nor have they threatened to send troops into Manchuria. The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs further stated that Talienwan, if leased to Russia, would be opened to foreign trade like other Chinese ports. Her Majesty's Minister at Pekin has confirmed the existence of these negotiations, but he states that there is no indication of anything in the shape of an ultimatum; neither, so far as he is aware, has any time limit been given for a reply, as represented in the Press. We have no information to the effect that the Russian Government are opposing the loan to China concluded by the Anglo-German Banks, which, I understand, is on the point of being issued. Her Majesty's Minister at Pekin reported in October last, that endeavours had been made by the Russian Chargé d'Affaires to obtain the removal of Mr. Kinder, the chief engineer on the Northern line from Tientsin to Kirin, on the ground of a promise by the Chinese Government that, if this line were extended, they would, in the first instance, address themselves to Russian engineers and Russian capital. Sir C. Macdonald obtained a promise from the Tsung-li-Yamen that Mr. Kinder should not be removed. We have received no information confirming the alleged cession of Deer Island to Russia.


Can the right hon. Gentleman state with regard to the railway, as to which he answered in a previous Question, whether the existing agreement contains the right to send Russian troops to the stations along the line?


NO, Sir, it does not contain any such stipulation. The only provisions in the agreement about the Manchurian railway relating to the safeguarding of the line are as follows: The Chinese Government undertakes to adopt measures for securing the safety of the railway and its employees against extraneous attacks; and the preservation of order on the lands assigned to the railway is entrusted to police agents, appointed by the Company, who are empowered to frame regulations for that purpose.