HC Deb 07 February 1955 vol 536 cc1530-2
23. Mr. Bing

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the date upon which Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom considered they were no longer bound by the Cairo and Potsdam declarations as to the future of Formosa; and the dates upon which this decision was communicated to each of the other Governments parties to these declarations.

26. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what consultations have taken place between Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government on the implementation of the policy on Formosa agreed at the Cairo Conference in 1943; and what communications on this subject have been made to the Central People's Government of China.

Sir Anthony Eden

The policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the Cairo Declaration was fully explained to the House by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 1st February. There have been no communications on this subject with the Government of the People's Republic of China. The Potsdam Declaration laid down as conditions for the Japanese that they should carry out the terms of the Cairo Declaration. Japan complied by formally renouncing all title to Formosa in the Japanese Peace Treaty.

Mr. Bing

is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government of the United States consider Formosa to be an integral part of Chinese territory; that, on that basis, they have concluded a treaty with China which they recognise; and that they do that on the basis of the Cairo Declaration? Is the right hon. Gentleman now telling the House that the American Treaty is invalid?

Sir A. Eden

No, Sir; my position is exactly the same in this matter as that of the late Government, which was very clearly expressed by the then Foreign Secretary in May, 1951, when he said: The question of Formosa will, however, come up in the context of the Japanese Peace Treaty. Our aim here is to secure an early Peace Treaty without allowing the difficult issue of Formosa to delay its negotiation and without attempting in the Treaty to find a final solution to an issue which must be given careful consideration later in the general context of the Far Eastern situation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th May, 1951; Vol. 487, c. 2302.] That is still the position of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Driberg

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement on Friday, in which he said that the status of Formosa was uncertain, and in view of the terms of the Treaty between the Americans and the Chinese Nationalists, in which Formosa is described by inference as an integral part of China, is it not clear that there is a serious difference of opinion on this matter between Washington and London?

Sir A. Eden

No, Sir; that is not so. The position of all countries in this respect is the same. It is that, at the time of the negotiations for the San Francisco Treaty, it was not possible to dispose of Formosa. Had it been possible to agree on the future of Formosa, it would have been included in the Treaty. As it was not possible to decide that, all that the Treaty did was to say that Japanese rights were ceded. That is the position of all the signatories to the Treaty of San Francisco.

Mr. Shinwell

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the present context has made a change in the situation, as contrasted with the time when the Japanese Treaty was signed in San Francisco? In these circumstances, might it not go a long way to satisfy the Chinese People's Government if a firm declaration were made by the right hon. Gentleman that Formosa, whether now or in the future, but at some time, and perhaps as a result of negotiations or some arrangement made between the parties, is an integral part of China and therefore comes under the control of the Chinese People's Government?

Sir A. Eden

I think the position is as I stated in reply to the right hon. Gentleman on Friday. It is equally right to say that none of the signatories has ever said that the islands are never to be ceded to China. What they did say was that they could not agree at the time of the San Francisco Treaty. They agreed on the first part of the operation, which was that Japan surrendered her rights, without allocating the islands. Perhaps I might make one more quotation from the late Government, because this is exactly the point made on 14th December, 1950, when the then Foreign Secretary said: But it has to be said that there is a great strategic conflict. It is no use disguising that. There are great problems associated with Formosa, and I shall not come down in a dogmatic way and say that we will do this, that or the other."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1950; Vol. 482, c. 1462.]

Mr. Paget

Is not the truth of the situation that the Cairo Declaration was, in fact, performed in 1945? The Cairo Declaration was that Formosa was Chinese territory, and the Potsdam Declaration and the Japanese surrender terms say that that Declaration should be performed. It was performed by handing over to the then Chinese Government, and, from 1945 onwards, it has been part of China?

Sir A. Eden

I am afraid that is not so. The position in law is that an armistice or the cessation of fighting does not affect sovereignty. There has not been a transfer of sovereignty because, at San Francisco, although there was a desire to agree about China, there was a difference of opinion as to which Chinese authority it should be handed over.