HC Deb 28 April 1926 vol 194 cc1999-2001

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give particulars as to the amount of rates paid respectively by Chinese residents and foreign residents in the International Settlement at Shanghai; and whether he can state the number of the Chinese ratepayers and of the foreign ratepayers, respectively?

The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Chamberlain)

The Shanghai municipal, land and general rates in 1925 produced amounts roughly equivalent to £325,000 and £570,000. It has been estimated that the approximate proportions of these amounts paid by Chinese are 35 per cent. and 60 per cent, respectively. The number of foreign ratepayers on the 31st March was 2,684. The exact number of Chinese ratepayers is difficult to ascertain, since the great majority of Chinese landholdings are registered in the names of foreigners.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government intends to instruct our representatives on the spot to support the request made by the annual meeting of the ratepayers of the International Settlement of Shanghai that three Chinese members shall be appointed to the municipal council at an early date; and whether he will urge upon our representatives, in order still further to satisfy the aspirations of the Chinese for a share in the municipal government and to allay the prevailing unrest, the desirability of according representation to the Chinese in the International Settlement in proportion to the rates they are paying?


It should, in the first place, be borne in mind that what now constitutes the International Settlement at Shanghai was originally an area set aside by the Chinese Government as a residence for foreigners who were debarred from the right of unrestricted residence on Chinese soil, and that large numbers of Chinese have subsequently of their own accord elected to come and reside within this area, in order to enjoy the advantages the efficient European municipal administration which has been established there.

In course of time this process has led to the result that Chinese residents greatly out-number the European residents, and His Majesty's Government and their representatives in China fully sympathise with the natural desire of the Chinese element to be represented now on the Shanghai Municipal Council. Negotiations with this object in view were in fact opened between the Chinese Government and the representatives in Peking of the Powers concerned some time before the request of the ratepayers referred to in the question, and His Majesty's Government hope that, as the Chinese gain experience in the arts of governing a great city, meats may be found of satisfying their legitimate aspirations for a greater share in the administration of the settlement.

They are, however, convinced that so drastic a change in the existing régime as would be involved by the introduction of the principle of representation of nationalities on the Municipal Council in proportion to the rates paid by such nationality would render the election of an efficient Municipal Council extremely difficult, and would be detrimental alike to the Chinese and foreign interests concerned. They are, therefore, not prepared at present to lend their support to any such proposal.

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