HC Deb 24 March 1938 vol 333 cc1382-3
80. Commander Marsden

asked the Prime Minister what are the treaty rights of Great Britain in respect of navigation on the Yangtze and other internal waterways in China?

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)

The right of British merchant vessels to navigate and trade upon the Yangtze and other internal waterways of China is covered by the provisions of a number of treaties between China and Great Britain, a full list of which I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT. By virtue of the Most-Favoured-Nation Clause, Great Britain is also entitled to participate in the rights of navigation acquired by treaties concluded with China by other nations. Further, by long continued usage British war and merchant ships have freely exercised these rights with the full consent of the Chinese Government.

Following is the list:

The following treaties have been concluded between China and Great Britain, namely:—

Articles 10 and 11 of the Tientsin Treaty of 1858.

Section III (1) of the Chefoo Convention of 1876.

The special Article of the Burma Convention of 1897, and Article 10 of the Mackay Treaty of 1902.

As regards the Royal Navy, Article 52 of the treaty of Tientsin provides that British ships of war shall be at liberty to visit all ports within the dominations of China.

81. Commander Marsden

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the announcement issued Jointly by the Japanese diplomatic, military, and naval authorities in Shanghai that no ships may ply in Chinese internal waterways in Japanese controlled areas, including part of the Yangtze River, without special permits issued by the Japanese authorities, failing which ships and cargoes will be subject to seizure; and whether he will inform the Japanese Government that His Majesty's Government refuse to recognise this order and will hold the Japanese Government responsible for any resulting damage to the property of British subjects?

Mr. Butler

My attention has been drawn to a report in the Press to that effect, but I have no official confirmation of it. His Majesty's Government could not recognise any such order, and will if necessary so inform the Japanese Government and hold them responsible for any damage to British interests resulting from the execution of any such order.

Mr. Davidson

Has the Minister any unofficial confirmation of that statement?

Mr. Butler

His Majesty's Ambassador is closely in touch with the Japanese authorities in this matter, and I have no doubt we shall receive an official communication on the subject.