§ 16 and 17. Mr. BARR
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether, seeing that in the Note of protest which the Chinese Foreign Office has addressed to His Majesty's Minister at Peking, on the subject. of the bombardment of Wanhsien, inquiry is made as to whether the British naval forces acted under special instructions from the British Government; what reply has been made to this inquiry; and whether, before the bombardment was made, all British subjects and foreign residents were advised to leave Wanhsien;
1173 (2), whether, seeing that Article 1 of Convention IX, concluded at The Hague in 1907, and to which Great Britain is a party, prohibited naval bombardment of undefended ports, towns, villages, dwellings, or other buildings, under all circumstances and conditions, he will say what redress Great Britain intends to make to China for the breach of this agreement committed by His Majesty's ships in bombarding the unfortified town of Wanhsien?
§ 19 and 33. Mr. CECIL WILSON
(1) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the attitude adopted in the note of protest addressed by the Wai Chiao-pu to His Majesty's Minister at Peking on the subject of the bombardment of Wanhsien with regard to the responsibility for the bombardment and as to the rights of the Chinese Government as regards claims to be presented later for reparation for damage done to life and property in the city and other equitable measures of redress; and what reply His Majesty's Government have made to this note of protest;
(2) asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will publish the full correspondence and cables which passed between the Government and the Commander-in-Chief, China station, relative to the Wanhsien incident?
§ 31. Mr. STEPHEN
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what were the actual orders given to the commanding officers of the warships and auxiliaries concerned in the Wanhsien affair; and whether their Reports have yet been received?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
As there are three questions on the subject of Wanhsien addressed to me as well as two addressed to my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, it will perhaps be convenient for me to make a general statement on the subject.
Wanhsien is the headquarters of one of the leading military commanders of Szechuan, and a strongly garrisoned town. It cannot therefore be properly described as an undefended town. In the course of the operations for the relief of the officers imprisoned by General Yang Sen in the ships detained by him, His Majesty's ships were subjected to 1174 heavy fire from troops and field-guns stationed in the town. Action on the part of His Majesty's ships was therefore necessary, but their fire was directed solely at military objectives in order to silence the hostile fire. The suggestion that British subjects and foreign residents were previously advised to leave Wanhsien is not correct. On the 2nd November the Wai Chiao-pu addressed a Note to His Majesty's Minister placing on record a formal protest against the bombardment of Wanhsien by British gunboats, and reserving all the rights of the Chinese Government as regards claims to be presented later for full return of the damage done to life and property in the city of Wanhsien and for other equitable redress. No written reply has yet been sent to this Note, but the Chinese Charge d'Affaires has been verbally informed that His Majesty's Government cannot reply fully until their own information is complete.
As I informed the hon. Member for South-East Essex on the 29th November, I hope to lay papers as soon as my information is complete. The question of the publication of the Admiralty correspondence will be considered at the same time. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty informs me that the naval report on the incident of 5th September has just reached him, but that he has not vet had time to study it.