§ 6. Captain PETER MACDONALD
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has any statement to make with regard to China?
§ 8. Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement concerning the position of affairs in North China; and whether he has any information as to the Peking-Hankow Railway administration and as to whether foodstuffs are now being commandeered in the Peking and Tientsin districts?
Mr. A. HENDERSON
His Majesty's Minister at Peking reported on the 20th instant that the outlook in China had changed for the worse, and that an outbreak of civil war was again regarded as imminent. The Northern authorities had taken over control of the telegraph and other public offices in Peking hitherto staffed by Nanking appointees, and the Chinese Government's troops appeared to be withdrawing from Shantung. I have subsequently seen reports in the Press that agents of Yen Hsi-shan, the leader of the Northern movement against the Central Government, took over the Peking-Hankow Railway administration and the wireless station at Peking on the 23rd instant, and that necessaries for the anti-Government bloc were being commandeered in the Peking and Tientsin districts. I have, however, received no official confirmation of these reports.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that, in these disturbed conditions, the legations are safe and adequately guarded?
I have no reason to doubt their safety at the moment. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we are splendidly represented there, and Sir Miles Lampson keeps us very fully informed of everything that is going on.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Does the right hon. Gentleman think, in view of the statement he has made as to the condition of affairs in China, that it is wise for us at the present time to relax any of our extraterritorial privileges?
I do not see that the two points are entirely associated. After all, the movement with regard to extra-territoriality was made under the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member.
No; I cannot say that they are actually suspended. We have to leave that matter for the time being in the hands of our representatives.