§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of 839 State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government have any information to give to the House regarding the condition of affairs at Hankow?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not know whether I ought to offer my congratulations or my condolences to the right hon. Gentleman on his return, but I hope I may say that I am glad to see him back.
Serious developments in the situation have taken place during the past week at Hankow, where a grave anti-foreign movement appears to be at work.
A union of the lower grade employés of the Chinese Maritime Customs was formed on the 21st of November with the support of the superintendent, who is a Chinese official. This union announces that its aim is to oust the element of foreign management from the service and bring it under purely Chinese control. The Commissioner of Customs hopes that it may be possible to keep the Custom House open and to maintain the lights service with foreign labour, but this may be difficult if the Custom House, which is in the Chinese city, is picketed. The latest report is that the situation in this respect appears somewhat easier. The union has presented its demands, but these are understood not to be of an impossible nature, though it may be that this is only its preliminary move.
At the same time, the general strike movement has made very great progress The servants of the Japanese are already on strike, and the Japanese have to import their food supplies from ether centres. The Communist section is showing great activity, and there is fear of a general strike being forced. This would throw out of employment thousands of lower grade workers, and it would be easy for agitators to incite them to viofence.
The situation is now being considered by His Majesty's Government, and I shall be obliged if the right hon. Gentleman will repeat his question on Wednesday, when T hope I shall he able to give him further information.
§ Mr. LOOKER
May I ask my right hon. Friend if he, or his Department, has received a cable from the British community at Hankow, stating that the situation is very grave indeed, and that 840 they are in daily expectation of an incident which will involve bloodshed, having serious consequences, and that our naval forces at present there are not considered adequate for file protection of British subjects, and can he give the House an assurance that our naval forces there will be strengthened without further delay?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I am in receipt of a telegram of the character described by my hon. Friend. The matter, as I have said, is under the consideration of His Majesty's Government, including the Admiralty.