HC Deb 27 June 1928 vol 219 cc504-5

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is in a position to make any statement as to the present position of the salt gabelle in China and as to any changes carried out, or proposed to be carried out, by the Chinese, in breach of international obligations entered into by China relating to the gabelle?


Orders have been issued by the Nanking Salt Administration to the District Inspectors at Tientsin and at Chefoo directing that, as from the 3rd of June, all payments issuable by those officers should be temporarily stopped, and that all funds collected should be temporarily deposited with various Chinese banks, to be taken over by an officer appointed by Nanking. The order added that the officers in charge of the District Inspectorates would be held responsible if any funds were disposed of contrary to these instructions. These orders entirely ignore the authority of the foreign Associate Chief Inspector, and are in complete disregard of the procedure laid down in the Reorganisation Loan Agreement for the fulfilment of the obligations secured on the salt revenues. His Majesty's Minister at Peking has conveyed a warning to the Minister for Foreign Affairs at Nanking of the irregularity of this action, and discussions between the Associate Chief Inspector and the Nanking authorities are proceeding.


Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the assurance published by the Nanking Government on the 17th of this month to the effect that it would not disregard any national responsibility in connection with agreements and understandings properly and legally entered into; and is it not the fact that these obligations as regards the salt gabelle are precisely the same as those obligations which it stated it would not disregard?


I have seen the declaration. It is not in the exact terms which my hon. Friend quoted. This is, unfortunately, of some importance, and I am not at all satisfied with the attitude of the Nanking Government on this question.


Could we not regularise this question better by dealing direct with Nanking rather than through Peking?