HC Deb 05 November 1934 vol 293 cc619-21

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Japanese Garrison Commander at Tientsin recently requested the British and other garrisons' in that town to notify the Japanese of any military manoeuvres that they may intend to carry out near Manchuria; whether he will state the nature of the reply given on behalf of His Majesty's Government to the Japanese representatives at Tientsin; on what grounds the Japanese Government considered itself entitled to object to British action on Chinese territory, and on the basis of what treaty rights foreign garrisons are entitled to carry out military manoeuvres in China; and whether, as such treaty rights are incompatible with China's status as a member of the League of Nations, His Majesty's Government will in future regard them as null and void under Article XX of the Covenant?


Under the Protocol of the 7th September, 1901, various Powers, including the United Kingdom, have a treaty right to station troops at Shanhaikwan and other places along the railway from that town to Peking in order to keep open communications between Peking and the sea. It has been the practice for the British troops stationed at Shanhaikwan to carry out exercises on convenient ground beyond the Great Wall dividing Manchuria from the rest of China and therefore strictly speaking beyond the furthest point to [which under the Protocol British troops had the right of access. On the 26th June last the Officer Commanding the troops at Shanhaikwan received a joint communication from the local representatives of the Japanese Army and the Manchurian authorities expressing the view that British troops should not without their consent enter upon what was termed the "soil of the Manchukuo Empire." As His Majesty's Government had no desire to be drawn into a discussion of the juridical questions involved in this communication it was decided that the British troops at Shanhaikwan should abandon the practice, which was not clearly authorised by the Protocol, of carrying out exercises beyond the Great Wall. I would add that equally suitable ground for the purpose is available inside the Wall.


May I take it, first, that the British Government have abandoned this practice for the future, and, secondly, whether the same embargo applies to the troops of other nations?


As regards the first of the two supplementary questions, my answer indicates the decision that has been taken, and I have no reason to think it will be changed. I am quite confident that the answer to the second question s in the affirmative, though I do not carry the details in my mind.