HC Deb 28 July 1937 vol 326 cc3072-4
15. Captain Plugge

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now make any further statement on the situation between China and Japan and, more especially, the enforced evacuation by Chinese troops of Peking, which up to the last few years has been the capital of China; and whether he has any information as to what is the aim and object of Japan in these military movements?

Mr. Eden

During the last two days there have been a number of serious clashes between Chinese and Japanese troops. The Japanese claim that the Chinese have been dilatory in carrying out the terms of the agreement said to have been reached between the Chinese and Japanese authorities on 19th July, more especially in respect of the movements of Chinese troops. The encounters in question seem for the most part to be a result of this situation. As regards the local situation in Peking, as I stated yesterday in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Tokyo was instructed to express the earnest hope that fighting in Peking would be avoided. No reports have yet reached me that such fighting has actually taken place. As a precaution, British subjects have been advised to come into the Legation quarter.

Captain Plugge

Will my right hon. Friend, during the Recess, use his utmost endeavours to induce the combatants to restrict the scope of this new war, or, if possible, to stop it altogether?

Mr. Eden

My hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that we, like the United States Government and other Governments, will do all we can to assist in bringing about a settlement.

Mr. Thorne

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that the time will ever arrive when other countries will show as much common sense as this country, and let other countries alone?

24. Sir John Wardlaw-Milne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information as to the details of the agreement between the Japanese authorities and General Sung-Cheh-Yuan with regard to the recent incidents in North China?

Mr. Eden

According to my information, of which it is difficult to obtain full confirmation, a document was presented to the Japanese authorities on 11th July agreeing that the 29th army would not reoccupy Wangping, apologising for the incident of 7th-8th July and agreeing that those responsible for it would be punished and that steps would be taken to control anti- Japanese activities. On 19th July, according to information from Japanese sources, the Hopei-Chakar authorities informed the local Japanese military authorities that they would voluntarily take steps to secure (1) the removal of persons impeding the improvement of Sino-Japanese relations, (2) strict control of the Communist Party and (3) the enforcement of a firmer policy in regard to anti-Japanese organisations, activities and education. It was further stated that as the majority of the Chinese troops involved in skirmishes with Japanese forces had been men of the 37th Division it had been decided to transfer them from Peking to other localities.

Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne

Is my right hon. Friend in a position to say whether the report that the Japanese have demanded the right to police the city of Peking is correct and if it is confirmed, does he agree that such action would be a demand far beyond anything contained in the Agreement to which he has just referred?

Mr. Eden

I say at once that, if my hon. Friend's information is correct, that would be a very much wider demand than there has been yet, but I have not received the information.

Mr. Leach

Has this example of humility on the part of the Chinese authorities served as an inspiration to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman?

25. Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, with a view to preserving the peace in the international settlement in Shanghai, he will represent to the Japanese Government the desirability of leaving it to the Chinese authorities in Greater Shanghai and the council of the international settlement to investigate the causes of the recent affray between Chinese and Japanese sailors, and to take such action by way of criminal proceedings as the circumstances, when ascertained, may require?

Mr. Eden

I am making inquiries as to this incident though, in view of the fact that no report has been received on the subject, it would seem that Press rumours have been considerably exaggerated. Should reports, however, tend to bear out these rumours, I will certainly keep my hon. Friend's suggestions in mind.

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