HC Deb 01 February 1938 vol 331 cc35-7
79. Mr. Morgan Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make with regard to the situation in China?

78. Mr. Paling

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information to give the House as to the position of affairs in the Far East?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

Since the end of last year the Japanese armies have made some advance northward from Nanking towards Suchow, and have also occupied Tsingtao and Taian in Shantung in an advance southward.

The Chinese Government has been reconstituted and the civil departments have moved to a number of towns further from the area of hostilities.

It is understood that Japanese terms of peace were communicated in December to General Chiang Kai-Shek. The Chinese Government requested elucidation of certain points, but the Japanese Government appear to have returned no reply to this request. Later, in January, the Japanese Government announced that they would "cease to deal with the Government of General Chiang Kai-Shek and looked forward to the establishment of a new Chinese régime." A Provisional Government claiming to be one for the whole of China has been set up in North China, but has not been formally recognised by the Japanese or any other Government. This Provisional Government has issued a decree modifying for North China the tariff schedule of the Chinese Maritime Customs in a sense favourable to Japanese imports. His Majesty's Government have protested against this action, which is contrary to treaty stipulations that there shall be a uniform tariff for all China.

The claims put forward in Shanghai tending towards a larger Japanese share in the administration of the International Settlement at Shanghai are still under consideration by the Shanghai Municipal Council, who are keeping in touch with the Governments concerned.

His Majesty's Government have had on various occasions to protest to the Japanese Government against action taken to the prejudice of British persons and property. While satisfaction has been obtained in some cases, others are outstanding and His Majesty's Government will continue to press for a satisfactory settlement. Other countries with interests in the Far East, notably the United States, have experienced similar difficulties and have had to take similar action for the protection of their nationals and interests. In the difficult conditions at present prevailing in the Far East, His Majesty's Government will continue to do their utmost for the protection of British interests, and for the promotion of international co-operation. They are in close and constant touch with other Governments principally interested, with whom they are glad to find a complete identity of view.

Mr. Morgan Jones

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what satisfaction the Japanese Government have given other than by way of apologies?

Mr. Eden

In certain cases, I understand, payment has been made—in respect, for instance, of the soldiers who were killed at Shanghai.

Sir A. Sinclair

Are the Government taking any action to give effect to the resolution of the League of Nations that China's fellow members of the League of Nations ought to give her help in the invasion of her territory?

Mr. Eden

I do not think I could be expected to answer that question without notice; and, if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, I am not by any means convinced that in present circumstances a public statement of that character would be advisable.

Mr. Silverman

Is there any precedent for the refusal of a Government to recognise the lawfully constituted Government of another country with which it is formally and technically at peace?

Mr. A. Henderson

Have the negotiations with respect to the Chinese Maritime Customs been terminated?

Mr. Eden

I think the hon. Gentleman has a question on that subject on the Paper, but I am afraid it will not be reached.

Mr. Mander

Can the Foreign Secretary say what action has been taken with reference to the Japanese censorship of British journalists in Shanghai?

Mr. Eden

Action has been taken; perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put the question down.