HC Deb 07 February 1938 vol 331 cc641-5
2. Mr. McEntee

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government have in any way altered their views as to the continuance of the international settlement at Shanghai and the maintenance of the present administration?

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

No, Sir.

7. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent, if any, the powers of the Inspector-General of Chinese Customs have been interfered with recently; and whether Sir Frederick Maze is still in control of the lighthouse department and the harbour department?

Mr. Eden

I understand that certain obstacles have been placed in the way of the Inspector-General of Chinese Customs in the exercise of his powers. The House is already aware that the North China revenues are not at present being remitted to Shanghai, and that the Provisional Government has issued a decree modifying for North China the tariff schedule of the Chinese Maritime Customs. There has in addition been some interference with the Customs examination and control at wharves in Shanghai in the Japanese controlled area, and certain customs vessels have been taken over by the Japanese authorities. With regard to all these developments, His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo has been instructed to make representations to the Japanese Government. The Coast Lights Service and Harbour Services are being maintained under the control of the Inspector-General, and the aids to the navigation in Shanghai Estuary have not been removed. As regards the harbour department, a number of the harbour launches which had been seized have been returned, and discussions are proceeding as to the remainder.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Can the right hon. Gentleman say to where the proceeds of the North China Customs are being remitted?

Mr. Eden

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will put that question down.

8. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent the details of the Chinese customs tariff have been interfered with in that part of China occupied by Japanese troops?

Mr. Eden

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the answers which I gave to the hon. Members for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) and Wentworth (Mr. Paling) on 1st February, and to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington (Major Procter), on 3rd February, to which I have at present nothing to add.

Sir A. Knox

Is it not a fact that the Nanking Government has previously increased the Chinese import duties by an average of from 200 to 300 per cent.; and has not this change generally been in the interest of Chinese trade, provided that discriminatory duties are not put on British products?

Mr. Eden

Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend would put that question down; I am afraid I do not carry the figures in my head.

9. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can furnish information regarding the amount of munitions supplied to China since the commencement of hostilities, and by what Powers?

Mr. Eden

I cannot speak for other Governments, and in any case my information as to supplies from other countries is incomplete. So far as exports from the United Kingdom are concerned, the total value of the war material exported between 1st June, 1937, and 31st January, 1938, was £134,338.

Sir A. Knox

Is not that a very small proportion of the total exports to China, and might it not be advisable to limit it as much as possible, in order to avoid giving offence to Japan?

Mr. Eden

With regard to the first part of my hon. and gallant Friend's supplementary question, I cannot speak for other countries. As to the second part, it must be borne in mind that we are adhering to the Resolution recently passed by the League of Nations.

Mr. A. V. Alexander

Is it not a fact that in the same period we exported arms to Japan: and would it not be wiser to stop all arms exports to Japan and export more to China?

Mr. Eden

If the right hon. Gentleman wants the figures for Japan, he should put a question to the Board of Trade. My impression is that they are very small.

Sir A. Knox

Should it not be our policy to avoid giving offence to Japan? Is it the policy of His Majesty's Government to antagonise every virile nation?

Mr. Gallacher

Should it not be the policy of His Majesty's Government to support the London dockers?

11. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the exact nature of the Japanese censorship at Shanghai over British telegrams and mails both inward and outward?

Mr. Eden

According to my information, the nature of the censorship is as follows: Press messages are examined by the censors. Following on representations by His Majesty's Government, arrangements have been made to enable senders of commercial telegrams in code to file with the censor a certificate from their respective consular authorities stating that they are bona fide commercial firms and that these telegrams are strictly commercial and not in any way connected with political or military interests. Code messages not covered by such consular certificates are, I understand, accepted provided the code used is indicated to the censors. There is, of course, no censorship of Government telegrams. No instances of the censorship of mails or inward telegrams at Shanghai have been brought to my notice.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Does the censorship extend to protests and apologies?

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Have the Japanese authorities requested commercial firms to hand over their secret codes?

Mr. Eden

The position is now, as I said in my answer, that, as the result of our representations, commercial firms send their telegrams in code subject to their being authorised by our consular representative.

Mr. A. Henderson

Was there a Chinese censorship before the occupation of Shanghai by Japanese armed forces?

Mr. Eden

There was a Chinese censorship, but I am afraid I do not carry in my mind what its nature was.

22. Mr. Boothby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to which Government in China Sir Archibald Clark Kerr is accredited; and where the British Embassy is to be established?

Mr. Eden

Sir A. Clark Kerr is accredited to the National Government of the Republic of China. He is proceeding in the first instance to Shanghai, which is at present the temporary headquarters of the British Embassy in China.

Mr. Boothby

Where do the Government contemplate putting the permanent British Embassy in China?

Mr. Eden

Its Headquarters are at present at Shanghai, but the Chinese Government are spread over many capitals, and it has been left to His Majesty's Ambassador to make the contacts he considers most desirable.

23. Sir William Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any statement on the steps to be taken by the foreign Powers concerned, including ourselves, for the maintenance of the Chinese Maritime Customs on which foreign loans are secured?

Mr. Eden

Negotiations are in progress between representatives of the Chinese Customs Administration and the local Japanese authorities in Shanghai regarding the custody of the funds and the service of the loans secured on the Customs revenue. His Majesty's Government and the Governments of France and the United States are keeping in close touch with the situation, and have made it clear, both locally and at Tokyo, that any arrangement reached should safeguard the integrity of the Customs administration and the service of the foreign obligations secured thereon.

34. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reports have been received from the representatives of His Majesty's Government in Nanking with reference to conditions in the city following its occupation by Japanese armed forces?

Mr. Eden

The buildings of His Majesty's Embassy and their contents are intact. Some motor-cars, however, were removed. This question has been taken up with the Japanese authorities. Apart from one case of looting and destruction, little or no damage has been done to British property. Some buildings are at present occupied by the Japanese military authorities and His Majesty's Consul was instructed to request their evacuation and reserve the right of the companies concerned to claim compensation later. No foreigners other than officials are at present being allowed by the Japanese military authorities to return. As regards general conditions, I regret to say that there was considerable lawlessness and that numerous cases of unrestrained violence are reputed to have occurred during the first two weeks after its occupation by the Japanese forces. Though conditions have somewhat improved since that date isolated cases of military lawlessness continue.

Mr. Henderson

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that there was a report in the "Daily Telegraph" of 28th January that thousands of Chinese women and children had been killed and that many had been outraged by Japanese troops?

Mr. Eden

Of course, I have seen it.