§ Mr. GINNELL
asked whether the British Government had any other object in lending £1,100,000 to the Chinese Government to buy back the concession for the Hankow-Canton Railway except that, on account of its proximity to the British Colony of Hong Kong, it was considered desirable that it should be controlled by British subjects; what steps, if any, were taken between 1905 and the spring of the present year to promote that object by securing for British interests the control of this railway; whether, in order to re-cover the Hankow-Canton Railway, the 550 British and French groups were compelled to allow German financiers to participate in the Szechuan Railway; and, if so, who was mainly responsible for this change?
§ Sir E. GREY
It is substantially the case that in lending China the sum of £1,100,000 in 1905 His Majesty's Government were actuated by the wish to obtain control over the Hankow-Canton Railway. Negotiations proceeded continuously from that year until the spring of 1909, when, as the hon. Member was informed on the 30th ultimo, a German group of financiers offered the Chinese terms which they considered more advantageous than those the British group was prepared to offer, or than the British Government could have approved, and which the Chinese Government accepted. The subsequent negotiations resulted in a compromise, the object of which was to secure more control and avoid competition.
§ Mr. GINNELL
asked whether the Chinese Government have, under pressure from the British Government, become contributary to the payment of 5 per cent, per annum interest on a loan of £1,500,000 for the construction of the Kowloon Railway, which they know they can never pay; sole guarantors for a loan of £3,000,000 at 5 per cent, interest for the Shanghai-Nanking Railway, which is being worked at a loss to them of £101,000 per annum; solely responsible for the working expenses of the trafficless railway built by the Peking Syndicate, in addition to paying £35,000 a year interest on the bonds for it; whether the Chinese Government always disapproved of the making of each and all of these railways and wanted railways made elsewhere; and in a country where railways are so necessary and would be beneficial to China and to investors if made in right places whether British influence will in future be directed to securing this latter condition?
§ Sir E. GREY
The Chinese Government promised the concession for these railways 11 years ago. The actual terms on which these lines have been or are being constructed were settled by amicable agreement with the Chinese Government. There is, so far as I am aware, no ground for the allegations implied in the question that the Chinese Government are dissatisfied with the terms or the railways, or that the railways are in districts where they are not required and could not be made profitable.