HC Deb 03 March 1908 vol 185 c527

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if this Government has any official knowledge that Japan is contesting the right of China to extend northwards her railway system west of the Liao River; if it supports the Japanese position which is a practical extinction of Chinese sovereignty in the region affected; and whether this would be in keeping with the terms of the Anglo-Japanese alliance.


As far as His Majesty's Government are aware, Japan is not contesting the right in principle of China to extend her railway system west of the Liao River. Japan is opposing the application for the construction of a particular line on the ground that an agreement was arrived at in 1905 between China and Japan by which the former country engaged not to construct any main line of railway in the neighbourhood of, and parallel to, the South Manchurian Railway, or any branch line which might be prejudicial to that railway. The existence of this agreement is not disputed by the Chinese Government. It is open to the contractors to prove, if they can do so, to the satisfaction of Japan that the proposed railway would not prejudice the South Manchurian line and so would not violate the agreement.