HC Deb 22 May 1928 vol 217 cc1658-9
68. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any further statement about the military and political position in China?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson)

On the 18th of May the Japanese Government addressed to the Northern and Southern Chinese authorities a communication warning them that Japan, while maintaining an attitude of strict, neutrality, would not permit the spread of the civil war to Manchuria. The text of this declaration has already appeared in the Press, so I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. So far as I know, neither party has as yet replied officially to this communication. No great progress has been made by the Southern forces in their advance on Peking and Tientsin, and the latest reports show that the Northern forces are offering resistance South of Paotingfu. Recently a battalion, less two companies, of the Shanghai Defence Force has been despatched from Shanghai to Wei-hai-wei, where for some time past there has been one company. This movement has been undertaken primarily for training purposes and in order to give the troops the benefit of a more congenial climate, but they would be available for the defence of British lives and property at Tientsin if necessary and are only about a day away.

Following is the text of the Japanese communication: The life of the population in China is characterised by extreme unrest and distress owing to constant disturbances there which have now extended over many years; and foreign residents enjoy there no assurance of safety in the pursuit of their occupations. It is accordingly the earnest desire of Chinese and foreigners alike that the disturbances should terminate as soon as possible in such a manner as may lead to the emergence of a united and peaceful China. Especially is this keenly hoped for by Japan, whose interests are specially and deeply involved on account of her being China's nearest neighbour. The disturbances, however, now threaten to spread to the Peking and Tientsin district, and it is feared that Manchuria may also be affected. The Japanese Government attach the utmost importance to the maintenance of peace and order in Manchuria, and are prepared to do all they can in order to prevent the occurrence of any such state of affairs as may disturb that peace and order or constitute a probability of causing such disturbance. In these circumstances, should disturbances develop further in the direction of Peking and Tientsin and the situation become so menacing as to threaten the peace and order of Manchuria, the Japanese Government, on their part, may possibly be constrained to take appropriate and effective steps for the maintenance of peace and order in Manchuria. It must be noted, however, that the policy of the Japanese Government, which consists in maintaining an attitude of strict neutrality towards the contending forces, remains unchanged in every respect, and that should the course of events be such as to render the above-mentioned measures imperative the Japanese Government will, in respect of the time and method of their adoption, exercise due care to provide against any unfair consequences arising to either of the two opposed parties.