HC Deb 08 November 1927 vol 210 cc24-6
19. Sir J. POWER

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he can make any further statement on the situation in China?

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

Since the last summary of affairs in China was given on the 27th of July in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) the civil war has entered on a new phase. The withdrawal of the troops of the Nationalist Government of Nanking southward from North Kiangsu continued during August; they were followed up by Sun Chuan-fang, who occupied Pukow and other places on the Yangtze, and made one or two abortive raids across the river with Nanking as their objective. Pukow was re-occupied by Nanking troops during the first week of September, and Sun Chuan-fang was ultimately forced to retire to a point some 100 miles north of Pukow. Hostilities on this front now appear to be at a standstill.

A conference of the Kuomintang was held at Nanking on the 15th of September, with the object of effecting the reunion of the Hankow and Nanking Governments, but Tang Sheng-chih, the commander-in-chief at Hankow, refused to attend it. On the 20th of September, the formation of a new Nationalist Government of China was announced; this Government made the usual professions of hostility to Communism. Apart from this, it was remarkable for the almost complete exclusion of Sun Yat-sen's family and connections. The Nationalist Government at Hankow passed out of existence, Messrs. Eugene Chen and Borodin having already left for Moscow, and Tang Sheng-chih ruled there as military governor. At the end of September, the Nanking Government declared Tank Sheng-chih a counter-revolutionary and ordered a punitive expedition against him. This punitive expedition is now in progress, but so far no fighting of importance has taken place.

At the end of September, hostilities broke out between Yen Hsi-shan, the military governor of Shansi, and Chang Tso-lin. At the first attack Chang Tsolin's troops were compelled to withdraw, but since the 10th of October he has had a series of successes and has pushed the Shansi invaders back to their own province. At the same time, Feng Yu-hsiang has been attacked in Honan by the Shantung troops of Chang Tsung-Chang, and was at first forced to retire, but is now successfully counter-attacking.

The generally unsettled conditions in the Yangtze Valley and the unstable state of affairs at Hankow have been reflected in the administration of the ex-British Concession at that port. The Chinese Director of the Administration fled to Shanghai on the 26th September in order to avoid arrest by the military authorities. Since that date the administration of the area has been carried on by the remaining British and Chinese members of the council without a director. A new director has been appointed by General Tang Sheng-chih's political council and confirmed by the Nanking authorities; it is uncertain how far this appointment is in conformity with the Chen-O'Malley agreement, and accordingly he has not been recognised, though he has made efforts to force himself on the council

As a result of the investigations of the British Trade Mission on the Yangtze, it has been found possible for British shipping companies to resume a restricted service from Hankow to Changsha, where conditions were found to be distinctly improved, there being no sign of anti- foreign feeling and the Communist element being sternly repressed. Chung-king also was found to be quiet, with little anti-foreign feeling and rigid suppression of Communism. The Consulate at this port is being reopened and that at Ichang will also be reopened as soon as a consular officer is available. British steamer navigation has been experimentally resumed on the Upper Yangtze, and I understand that British merchants are returning to Changsha, Ichang and Chungking.

It is reported that a new independent Nationalist Government, composed of members of the Sun Yat-sen faction, is now being organised in Canton.

His Majesty's Minister has reported the revival of the anti-British boycott at Canton, and His Majesty's Government are considering the steps to be taken to deal with this development. The latest information is to the effect that the local authorities are making endeavours to restrain the pickets, who have not yet functioned afloat.


Can the Foreign Secretary state how many troops we are still keeping at Shanghai, and whether there is any prospect of a reduction?


I shall be glad if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will address his question to the Secretary of State for War.


Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House which authority is now entitled to appoint a director of the Hankow Municipal Administration under the terms of the Chen-O'Malley Agreement?


No, Sir. That is a question which it is easier to, put than to answer.

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