§ 76. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the latest development in the Chino-Japanese crisis?
§ Viscount Cranborne
I understand that my right hon. Friend is to make a statement at the end of Questions in reply to a Private Notice Question from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will be good enough to await that statement.
§ Mr. Attlee
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government are taking any action with a view to bringing about a cessation of hostilities in China?
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
According to my information, an agreement was reached locally on 19th July and the Chinese 37th Division began withdrawing from Peking, their garrison duties being taken over by the 132nd Division. This greatly eased the situation. Barricades and defences within Peking were removed and soldiers in the streets were replaced by the Peace Preservation Corps. There appears also to have been a withdrawal of Japanese troops in the area of conflict. Subsequently, however, difficulties appear to have arisen in connection with the withdrawal of the 37th Division and a Chinese official arrived in Peking on 26th July to assist in further negotiations.
In the meantime, I regret to have to inform the House that at 11 p.m. on 25th July fighting broke out between Japanese and Chinese soldiers at Lang-fang, a place on the railway half-way between Peking and Tientsin. There were some casualties and early on 26th July the Japanese attacked the Chinese regiment involved from the air. Railway communication was interrupted on 26th July. I have no information as to fighting in Peking itself. A report has reached me of the possibility of action by Japanese troops in the city as well as outside, and I have instructed His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Tokyo to express the earnest hope of His Majesty's Government that such action will be avoided. Apart from that, His Majesty's Government have continued to urge on both the Japanese and Chinese Governments with reference to the situation generally their concern and their interest in seeing a peaceful settlement reached. I understand that similar action has been taken both at Tokyo and Nanking by the United States and French Governments. In the meanwhile, His Majesty's Government are maintaining constant touch with other Governments concerned, particularly the United States Government.
I would add that local schemes exist for the protection of British subjects in those parts and will be put into operation if the emergency arises.
§ Mr. Mander
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Governments with which he is keeping in touch include the Soviet Government?
§ Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any proposals have been received from the Chinese Government concerning the evacuation or protection of British nationals in Peking?