§ Mr. MOLTENO
I desire to draw attention to a subject which is exciting a great deal of interest in some quarters—that is, the Japanese demands made upon China. We have very little information upon this question, but by a question and answer it does not appear possible for the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to throw very much light upon the position in regard to this important question, but it seems quite clear that demands have been made upon China of a somewhat far-reaching character, and these demands also seem to be of an exclusive character. They demand exclusive privileges in very large areas of China—indeed, so large and in such varied directions that they amount almost to a control of a considerable part of China. It has been very difficult to ascertain exactly what those demands are, and I should like to mention what demands have been made public and what apparently are authentic.
We were told on the 12th of February last that the concessions demanded from China by Japan are not yet officially published, but they are reported to include the following: In general Japan demands that no part of the China coast and no island of the coast be ceded or leased to any foreign Power. The following special privileges are demanded in the regions named: In Eastern Mongolia, Japan shall have exclusive mining rights; no railways shall be constructed without the consent of Japan; the Japanese shall 1718 be granted the right to settle, farm, trade, and purchase land. In South Manchuria, the lease of Port Arthur and the leased territory shall be extended to ninety-nine years; the Antung-Mukden and Kirin-Changchun railway agreements shall be extended to ninety-nine years; the Japanese shall be granted the right to settle, farm, trade, and purchase land. China shall transfer to Japan all mining and railway privileges hitherto enjoyed by the Germans, and in Shantung shall agree to the construction of the railway from Chefoo or Lungkow to Weihsien as Japanese. In the event of foreign capital being needed in Fukien, China shall not grant mining, railway, or dock construction rights to other Powers without the consent of Japan. In the Yangtse Valley, Japan shall jointly control with China the Hanyang ironworks, in which Japan has a large financial interest, the Tayeh iron mines, and the Pingsiang collieries, and China shall undertake not to grant to other nationals mining rights calculated to impair these undertakings.
Further details were given from New York in a telegram reproduced at length in the "Manchester Guardian" of 22nd February, as follows: Among the stipulations said to have been originally presented and not included in the memorandum handed to the Foreign Legations were the following: That if China employs foreigners as controlling advisers in the police, military and financial departments of the entire country, Japanese shall be preferred. That half of the ammunition and arms hereafter used in China shall be purchased in Japan; otherwise, an arsenal to be established in China employing Japanese experts and materials. That China shall grant Japan the same privileges as other nations to establish missions, schools, and churches throughout the country, with the privilege of propagating Buddhism. That mining concessions conflicting with existing concessions in Hanyang, Yateh, and Pingsiang shall not be granted to other foreigners if the Chino-Japanese Company to be hereafter formed shall disapprove. That certain railway concessions, Nanchang to Chao-Chow-fu, Nanchang to Ku-Kiang, Nanchang to Wu-Chang, and Nanchang to Hanchow, be granted. That foreigners other than Japanese shall be excluded from future railroad, mining, and dock building concessions unless Japan shall give her consent. These demands were summarised by me in the House on 1719 Tuesday, 2nd March, when I asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs:
"Whether demands have recently been made upon China by the Government of Japan to the effect that if China employs foreigners as controlling advisers in the police, military, and financial departments of the entire country Japanese shall be preferred; that half of the ammunition and arms hereafter used in China shall be purchased in Japan, otherwise an arsenal to be established in China, employing Japanese experts and materials; that China shall grant Japan the same privileges as other nations to establish missions, schools, and churches throughout the country, with the privilege of propagating Buddhism; that mining concessions conflicting with existing concessions in Hanang, Tayeh, and Pingsiang shall not be granted to other foreigners if the Chino-Japanese company to be hereafter formed shall disapprove; that certain railway concessions, Nanchang to Chao-chow-fu, Nanchang to Kukiang, Nanchang to Wuchang, and Nanchang to Hanchow, be granted. That foreigners, other than Japanese, shall be excluded from future railroad, mining and dock building concessions unless Japan shall give her consent? The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs replied, "I must refer the hon. Member to the previous answers which I have given on this subject. I may say, however, that some versions that have appeared of the Japanese demands are much exaggerated, and in particular the first and last demands in the hon. Member's question are not correct." My hon. Friend (Sir Ryland Adkins) asked, "Has my right hon. Friend heard from China of these demands as well as from Japan?" The Foreign Secretary replied, "Various communications have been made from different quarters, some of them not very accurate. Will my hon. Friend please give notice of a question." I asked, "Has any demand been made contrary to the Treaty with Japan?" The Foreign Secretary replied, "I cannot add to the answer I have already given."
Even making allowance for that, those which I have mentioned, which appear to be authentic, seem to be somewhat in conflict with our Treaty with Japan, which provides for equal opportunity for all nations in China and the integrity and independence of China itself. Our treaty, which is dated 12th August, 1905, provides for the preservation of the governing 1720 powers of China and the ensuring of its independence and integrity and equal opportunity for the commerce and industry of all nations. These demands appear to be in conflict with this. I would ask the Under-Secretary whether these demands have been put forward with the concurrence and consent of the British Government? I ask that because it is provided by Article 1 of the same Treaty that, whenever any of these rights are in jeopardy, the two Governments should consult one another fully and frankly and settle in common the measures to be taken to safeguard those menaced rights or interests. Again, the second article provides that if there be war, each high contracting party will at once come to the assistance of its ally, and they shall conduct war in common and make peace in mutual agreement. Article 5 of the same treaty provides that neither of the high contracting parties will, without consulting the other, enter into separate arrangements with any other Power to the prejudice of what is described in the Preamble. It is quite clear that common agreement is contemplated between the Allies in regard to questions arising out of the conduct and conditions of this War and that common action is obligatory upon both.
I would ask the Under-Secretary to tell us what demands have really been made upon China by our Ally, and whether they have been made in agreement with us or apart from us, and how far they are in conflict, as they appear at first sight to be, with the articles of our Treaty? No one desires to take up an attitude in any sense ungenerous to Japan, who has rendered such great services to us in this War, but at the same time I would like to know what the position, really is, because it is stated in well-informed circles that China has objected to some or all of these demands on the ground that they conflicted with existing treaties with other foreign Powers. Yet we are told that Japan is pressing all of them. I will not enlarge on the effect of these demands on trade, or the question of political control in great areas in China. The Secretary of Foreign Affairs was asked in this House recently as to when, and the method in which, far Eastern questions arising out of the War were to be put forward for international settlement. He said that no one of the Allies will demand terms of peace without the previous agreement with each 1721 of the other of their Allies. Article 2 of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance is to the same effect. Therefore it invites the four Powers for the purpose named in the question. It will appear from this answer of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that this is hardly the time at which those demands can be put forward. The whole of the circumstances surrounding the demands have arisen out of the War. We have not brought Germany to a condition in which terms of peace can be made, and these should be considered with demands that arise out of the conclusion of the War. I would therefore ask whether it is not the case that these demands should be deferred until that time, because a final settlement is to be made in connection with the end of the War.
The UNDER-SECRETARY Of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Primrose)
I should first like to express on behalf of my right, hon. Friend his regret that he is unable to be present this evening to answer my hon. Friend himself. My hon. Friend will quite understand the reason when I say that my speech will be strictly limited in area, not only because the hour is late, but because there is not much to say on this subject. I quite understand why my hon. Friend has raised this matter. British commercial interests in China are very great, and he is quite right in seeing that they are in no way neglected. I can assure him that the Foreign Office take the same view that he does and are determined to see that those interests are not neglected. In his concluding sentences my hon. Friend referred to the fact that in his opinion the mere announcement of these demands was contrary to the spirit of the treaty between the Allies, in which they bound themselves not to make terms of peace without the consent of the others. I do not think he is correct in that sup-position.
These Japanese demands fall into two categories—one category which is by far the largest is an attempt to settle outstanding questions with China, questions which have been outstanding for several years; and the other category, which is much smaller, is an attempt to see what attitude the Chinese Government will take up if Japan formulated certain demands when the War arrives at a conclusion. They are contingent demands, and I do not think that they can be included under 1722 the heading of demands which are violating the principle of the treaty between the Allied Powers, that none of us should formulate any demands until the War is over. On the general question I must say that His Majesty's Government have no objection to the expansion of Japanese interests in China, provided that the expansion in no way inflicts injury upon British interests. That is the principle we here laid down for ourselves, because we here admitted that we should not apply for any concessions in China which would affect the South Manchurian Railway. We naturally expect that Japan should show us reciprocity and not apply for any concessions which would affect British interests. As regards the second point, my hon. Friend feels nervous that the integrity of China may be threatened. If there were any reason to suppose that these negotiations between China and Japan could not be settled by diplomatic methods, and if there was a prospect of developments which might impair the independence and integrity of China, no doubt consultations would take place as to what was fair to Japan and as to how that could be secured without impairing the independence and integrity of China, which it is one of the objects of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance to secure. I regret that I cannot enter into the detailed demands of Japan, because I am sure my hon. Friend will realise that demands which were communicated confidentially to His Majesty's Government by the Government of Japan, cannot be communicated at present to this House, but I think I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government is fully alive to the importance of British commercial interests in China, and will do their utmost to endeavour to secure them intact.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the third time, and passed.
§ The remaining Orders were read and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 3rd February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at Seven minutes after Twelve o'clock midnight, till Monday next, 15th March.