HL Deb 16 March 1943 vol 126 cc668-95

LORD TEVIOT rose to call attention to the situation in China and the Middle East; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it would be very unlikely that four members chosen from both Houses would agree entirely on everything that they saw; therefore I want it to be understood that any views that I express are entirely my own, and that I am not committing any of my colleagues in anything I say. It is difficult in these very crowded times in which so much happens to give your Lordships a full picture without being far too long. First of all, I would like to thank my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, and your Lordships, for doing me the great honour of selecting me as one of the Mission to China. It was a great honour and privilege, and indeed a great responsibility. I felt that it was my duty to bring before your Lordships a general account of what I saw.

We have referred already to the wonderful reception that the Chinese people accorded us. I am quite certain that that reception emanated from real friendship for the people of this country. I found not one single discordant note the whole time we were there. The Chinese people, in conversations I had with many of them, seemed fully to understand the difficulties that we have passed through and that we are in to-day. I refer in particular to that episode of the closing of the Burma Road. I found no Chinese make any adverse comment on that. They thought it was the only thing we could do in the circumstances. I do not know whether the terrific burden that China is bearing owing to this war is realized here. I understand that they have had at least 5,000,000 casualties in their Army. That is, even with this great population, a tremendous tragedy. There are people who think that perhaps China could prosecute this war with greater energy, but from what I saw of the armaments of the Chinese Army I entirely agree with what I believe is the Generalissimo's policy—not to be drawn into a full-dress battle with the Japanese who are equipped with modern weapons because if he did so he would be defeated. His policy, so far as we could judge it, is to go on harassing the areas which the Japanese are occupying, and also to carry on as far as they can guerrilla warfare.

I think we were all tremendously impressed with the smartness, the discipline and the splendid bearing of the Chinese soldiers that we saw. There is no doubt they thoroughly understand the weapons they have. They are hard men and I feel absolute confidence that when they are fully equipped they will make short work of the Japanese. I saw a most remarkable thing one day. We inspected a division drawn up in line and at the double this division formed three sides of a square in front of the platform from Which we were going to speak. They did it at the double and they might have been moving as one man. It was a most remarkable piece of drill, and I do not believe that any but our very best troops here could have done the same thing. We visited one of the front line positions of the Chinese Army. I took special notice myself, being an old machine gunner in the last war, to see how they got their guns placed and to study the methods that they adopted. I must say that they think out their strategy and their tactics extremely well. I am not surprised that the Japanese are chary of attacking them.

Their Air Force of course is a small one, but I believe it to be most efficient. We met General Mao Pang Chu, who commands the Chinese Air Force, and we formed a great opinion of him. There is an administration which is first class. Then we met that great General, the American General Chennault. We were all delighted to see that he was honoured by His Majesty some time ago, and we are glad to see that he has been promoted. General Chennault is a very remarkable man. He gives one the impression of being a great leader and a most efficient commander of any Air Force. Our flights through China were in Chinese military planes, piloted by Chinese, and we were all very satisfied with the happy take-offs and the happy landings we made under the pilotage of the Chinese pilots. In the matter of the supply of war weapons, the Chinese with the greatest possible ingenuity have managed to extricate and get away from the occupied areas a certain amount of machinery. They have improvised other machinery out of apparently very little material indeed and they are now producing small arms, small arm ammunition, trench mortars and, lately, shells for the artillery they have got. Some of the machinery is almost of the Heath Robinson type, but it works and they are getting the stuff out, which is the great thing. There is no doubt whatever that the Chinese intend to fight through to the end, that they intend to drive the Japanese not only from China proper, but from Manchuria. When one sees the conditions under which they have had to fight against a fully equipped, well armed, pugnacious nation, one wonders how in the world they were able to stop the Japanese from overrunning the whole of their country.

There is a calm assumption of victory throughout China which is most impressive. It is remarkable that in spite of the war there is throughout the whole of the administration of China a general idea of preparation for a democratic Constitution after the war. The Generalissimo is preparing the nation to that end. There are at present two organizations. One is called the Peoples' Political Council. That is not an executive organization, but it contains representatives of all political Parties in China. I think that the correct expression to use in regard to it is that it is an advisory body. It has its sessions and meetings. The organization which has executive authority and chooses the Government is an organization called the Kuomintang of which the Generalissimo is the head. There are about 300 odd members. I should say that all the big men, all the great men in China are in the Kuomintang. I feel sure that ultimately there should be a very up-to-date democratic Constitution. All the present systems of government all over the world are being studied most intensely and it seems to me there is no doubt that they will arrive at something probably better in democratic government than any nation at present operating the democratic idea.

I should like to say a word about schools and universities. There are one or two very interesting things about them. Discipline is very strict. I believe that to be thoroughly sound and the students seem to welcome it. They appoint leaders for their classes. Each member of a class has to be leader of the class for at least a week. That gives a sense of responsibility, and I think that perhaps here, instead of having boys who are prefects all the time, it might be well to have occasional leaders. That gives all an experience of responsibility and it seems to be a matter we might seriously think about. There are universities which are teaching the people civil administration, and they are also teaching the people—deliberately teaching them—how to be good citizens. They teach them that citizenship does not mean paying taxes and doing nothing else, but that more is expected of the really patriotic citizen. All this was on the highest plane and something one could not fail to admire.

Next I would turn to industry. The whole of the commerce and trade in China quite naturally has been thrown out of gear. But the curious thing is that whereas in the past raw materials have been taken many hundreds of miles to the factories, those establishments being now in Japanese hands, new factories are being built where the raw materials are found. I see enormous possibilities of development throughout China as a result of this taking place. We must not forget that China is isolated. There is no question about it that China is in the grip of a blockade far more than is any other nation in the world. As your Lordships are all aware, the only way in and out of China is over a very high mountain range—the end of the Himalayas. It does not seem to me to matter how much transport you may be able to take through the air over those mountains. I feel that before we can expect any great difference in the position in China we must get that Burma Road open and get the ports open, so that where now we are sending only hundreds of tons of material we can send thousands of tons.

I now wish to touch on a subject that I am afraid is a little controversial. Your Lordships are aware that the Americans have given the Chinese a loan or credit of £100,000,000 while we have given them a loan or credit of £50,000,000. The Americans have got no restrictions whatever on their loan, while we have restrictions on £40,000,000 of the loan that we have given. I am going to make a very strong appeal to the Government to remove all restrictions from that part of the loan. I ask the Government really to give serious consideration to this. What is £40,000,000? It sounds a large sum but it is not the amount of three days war expenditure at the present time. I believe that I am right in saying that the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated the other day that we are spending £14,000,000 a day on the war. Therefore, as I say, a sum of £40,000,000 does not amount to our war expenditure for three days. Then we are contemplating, after this war—for we all agree with the principles of the Beveridge Report—an expenditure of £800,000,000 per annum on various social services. I feel that we want to be generous in dealing with the Chinese, our great Allies, far away, isolated, and in the grip of a terrible blockade. I beg the Government to consider this matter and, if they possibly can do so, to waive any restrictions on this loan. I am certain that the Chinese in any case will be absolutely fair, and I am absolutely certain that if we do as I suggest this money will be expended in our country and will mean trade for us.

The methods of the Japanese are identical with those of the Germans. Of the brutality that is being shown to the Chinese you find much evidence when you go to China to-day. There are 50,000,000 refugees, at least, from the occupied areas and the numbers of inhabitants of the occupied areas who have been massacred or are now starving cannot be calculated. They are undoubtedly very large. Do not let us ever forget that the Chinese were the first to suffer from the action of an aggressor. It began in 1931 when the attack on Manchuria was launched. In spite of the length of this war the Chinese are just as strong in their views now as they were before, and they are determined to fight on until victory comes. I hope that we here will do all that we can to help China to make herself what she ought to have been in the past, the great predominant nation of the Far East. The Chinese have thousands of years of culture behind them. They are a people of great intellect, and they are most industrious. Above all, they are a peace-loving people. I am sure that China, after the war, will enter upon a completely new era, and we shall see there what we are seeing here to-day, that many women will come into the picture headed by that great lady Madame Chiang Kai-shek, with whom there will be, I hope, Madame Sun Yat Sen and Madame Kung. These ladies make up a very distinguished trio of sisters. We must further not forget that there are many millions of Chinese citizens who are big men in our Colonies and Dominions.

Before leaving this subject I would like to say one word about our Ambassador in Chungking, Sir Horace Seymour. I believe, and I feel sure that my colleagues will agree with me in this, that he is doing a great work there, and that he is going to be a very much beloved man in China. Under the leadership of that great General and statesman, General Chiang Kai-shek, I believe that the outlook for China after the war is a bright one. I feel that we have made many lasting friendships in that country. If we have not done so it means that I have got to begin to think again. My own mentality has certainly been very deeply impressed with the feeling that I have made friends in China who will be friends for the rest of my life.

And now just a word about Turkey. As your Lordships are aware, we got a very charming invitation from the Turkish Government to visit them. It would be difficult to say very much concerning what we saw, but I can tell your Lordships that nothing could have been more friendly and more kindly than the manner in which we were received. I feel confident that the Turkish people and our own people are real friends, and I can see no reason why we should not continue to be so. I am certain that it is the intention of the Turkish people that we shall be so. We passed into Egypt on two occasions. The Egyptian Government officials were very kind to us. We were taken in charge by Sir Miles Lampson, now Lord Lampson, and introduced by him to all the great men of the country.

Finally, I come to our visit to the battlefield. if you want to be inspired by something fine, I do not believe that anything could give you such uplift as to go to the battlefield of North Africa and see our men there—weather-beaten but hard, with a very fine spirit of loyalty to their cause and with fine discipline. When one thinks that they suffered reverse after reverse and then turned all that into victory after victory, it is a great privilege to mix with such men. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that there is nothing wrong with the British Army, and I am sure that if he had been with us he would have taken the same view.


My Lords, I have said so in this House many times. I think that the noble Lord was away on his important Mission when, during the last debate on the Army, I took the opportunity of paying a very high tribute to the British Army.


My Lords, I am very glad to hear that. I left this country just after a debate in which the noble Lord suggested that there was something wrong with the British Army. I did not know that the noble Lord had changed his mind; I am very pleased to hear that he has done so. If he had been with us, I am sure that he would have taken the same view that we did about these magnificent soldiers of our Army. There is no doubt about their efficiency. We went amongst the men—the Generals wanted us to do that—and talked to them. Never before have I met such a grand spirit as there was amongst them.

I am sorry not to see the most reverend Primate in his place. I was here a short time ago when he made a speech in this House on the Beveridge Report. I could not believe what I heard, and so I took the trouble to read the report of his speech very carefully afterwards. I wrote to the most reverend Primate and said that I was going to mention this subject to-day, but, as he is not here, I shall mention it in his absence, because I feel that perhaps he does not want to bother with it. I am going to read a passage from his speech which to my mind is a very grievous one. I am quoting from the Official Report for February 25, 1943, column 315. The most reverend Primate said: I am quite certain that those who are in close touch, for example, with the troops in our camps, would say that nothing could be better for the morale of the Army at this time than the clearest possible declaration from the Government with regard to what they take to be possible in the implementation of the Report. The reference is to the Beveridge Report.

I shall read the whole passage, because it is not very long: Many of them no doubt live from day to day without very much thought about the future, but those who are thinking about the future are thinking, as the noble Lord just said, mainly about the question whether there is going to be after this war such a time of distress as followed the other war. Some of them experienced it as children and some of them heard about it from their parents. This is the part of the speech which I wish that the most reverend Primate was here to deal with: It does occasion profound anxiety, and that anxiety does, to some extent, damage their own zeal in the cause they serve, because anxiety is always rather a weakening element in any man's make-up. As an old soldier, I take a very serious view of the fact that it should be suggested that, because the date or the method of the implementation of the Beveridge Report should be held up, or was not exactly what it was thought that it was going to be, it should damage the zeal of our soldiers in the cause they serve.

I was hoping to see the most reverend Primate here to-day, because I feel that he must have said something that he did not mean. We are all worried about the future; there is not a member of this House or of any other house who is not; but to make the suggestion that the most reverend Primate made, that our men at the front, who have fought so gallantly, should in any way withhold their fighting powers because of the Beveridge Report, distresses me very much indeed. I am very distressed to think that anyone should make that suggestion against men who have fought so long and so splendidly, and I do not believe that even in the camps in this country the soldiers there are affected at all in the way suggested. I believe their morale to be good, and I believe that they will never be deterred from doing their duty by any political or social matter.

In conclusion, I wish to say this. From the time that we left these shores there was evidence on the sea, in the air, and on the land, of the colossal effort that this little country of ours, of only 45,000,000 people, is making. We travelled right across Africa. Your Lordships know the route quite well. Everywhere we saw evidence of this stupendous effort, not only on the part of our Forces but on the part of the managements and the workers here. Believe me, there cannot be much wrong with the Army, the Navy or the Air Force, and I do not believe that there is much wrong with the general conduct of this war either by the Government or by the managements or workers of my country. Having seen all that I have seen, I am intensely proud that I belong to a race that can do such fine things. I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words in support of the Motion so ably moved by my noble friend. As he has already said, the conclusions to which four people will come after a tour of that sort are not likely to be identical. But there is one thing that I know we are all at one about, and that is our intense admiration for everything we saw in China and our appreciation of the privilege it was to represent Parliament on this Mission. I very much welcome the statement of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House on the 4th March, when he reminded your Lordships that China is a United States strategical sphere. I think this fact may have been insufficiently realized in this country. I wish to make only one comment on that statement, and that is to express a hope that that condition will not be too rigidly applied on every possible occasion. As an example of what I mean your Lordships are well aware of the great achievements of the small American Air Force led by that gallant and great Commander, already referred to by my noble friend, General Chennault. I was very glad to read the tribute paid to General Chennault by the Leader of the House the other day, and to see that he had been awarded a British decoration. Having had the good fortune to meet General Chennault, I can confirm what my noble friend has said, that we were immensely impressed by him. We heard much independent testimony, both in China and in India, as to his prowess, and we were told that, with a small force of never more than 12 medium bombers, 80 fighters, and 2 reconnaissance machines, he had at the time we left China destroyed 296 enemy planes, confirmed, 216 probables, and as many more damaged, for the loss of only 35 American planes. In addition, considerable damage had been done to shipping and to other military objectives.

I have no wish to enter into the realm of strategy, a subject which I consider myself ill qualified to discuss, and which I in any case join with many of your Lordships in deprecating as a subject of debate in Parliament. But I would suggest one thing. It is that that small force under General Chennault is clearly not sufficient for sustained operations against the enemy, and that in view of the remarkable results that have so far been achieved by that force it is logical and reasonable to suppose that a somewhat larger force, say, 30 medium bombers instead of 12, 100 or 110 fighters instead of 80, and 6 reconnaissance machines instead of 2, with, say, 50 transport planes to supply this force with fuel, ammunition, spare parts, etc., might play such havoc with the Japanese Air Force and with their shipping as to compel the enemy to divert numbers of his fighter aircraft from areas where they can ill be spared, thus constituting a serious drain on the Japanese air strength. Failing such diversion it is probable that such a force as I have mentioned would, in a comparatively short time, so disrupt the enemy's sea lines of communication as seriously to affect his operations in the South-West Pacific.

Japanese shipping in Chinese waters is extremely vulnerable. There is little or no protection against air attack. Aerodromes are available in Free China from which Allied fighter planes can support our bombers and can operate over Formosa, and Formosa, where the warning system is bad and the anti-aircraft defence is poor, is a focal point in the Japanese supply lines to the South-West Pacific. It would certainly appear that the damage that could thus be inflicted on the transport of essential Japanese war material and on shipping which Japan cannot replace, or can only replace with great difficulty, would be of greater value to the Allied cause than anything which could be done by an equal number of planes in any other theatre of war. In particular, the laborious and costly operation of driving the enemy out island by island from the South-West Pacific might be greatly facilitated if his lines of supply were paralysed by a flank attack from China.

To go back to where I started, when I expressed the hope that the strategic sphere condition would not be too rigidly applied, it may well be that the United States are unable to spare the number of planes which I have tentatively suggested as a reasonable addition to the present force in China. If such be the case I would beg of His Majesty's Government not to rule out the possibility of this country providing the small numbers required. I am not asking for any reply or statement of any kind from the Government; I would, of course, have given notice if I had had any such desire. All I ask is that this matter may be most carefully considered in the light of the results which have already been achieved. It might even be, by a compromise to be arrived at, that this country could provide the extra bombers, fighters and reconnaissance planes, while the United States supplied the transport planes. In any case, I would propose that that additional force, wherever it came from, should work under the orders of the existing American Command. There are strong arguments, of course, in favour of British machines taking their place alongside those of our American Ally. Such an arrangement would certainly have the best possible effect on our relations with China.

There is only one further point in this connexion, that of replacements. It is probable that these might amount to about 15 per cent. per month, or about 4 or 5 bombers and about 15 fighters. I venture to submit that the small number of planes required—a very much more modest figure than was proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, on the 4th March—makes it difficult to believe that the present resources of the United Nations, despite their preoccupations elsewhere, are unequal to the demand. I was extremely interested to see a small paragraph in the Press a day or two ago intimating the creation of a separate China Air Command under General Chennault. To those of us who to the best of our ability studied the situation on the spot no possible announcement could have given greater satisfaction. If the sequel to that arrangement is the increase in the strength of that force, one feels very strongly that that would be by far the most useful and practical step which could be taken at the present moment in prosecuting the war in the Far East.

There is a great dearth of British Press correspondents to-day in Free China. I feel that that should be mentioned. Since the return home of The Times correspondent some months ago, to the best of my knowledge he has not yet been replaced, and there is not one single British newspaper correspondent to-day in Free China. I suggest that that is a thing that wants putting right as soon as possible. My noble friend mentioned the Kuomintang. I should like to say what a great honour we felt it to be not only to be asked to attend a session of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang—the first time any foreigner had been allowed inside—but that we were also asked to address them. When we arrived we found Dr. H. H. Kung, the Vice-President of the Executive Yuan, giving a general survey of the war and of the financial situation. As soon as he had finished, the Generalissimo, who was presiding in his capacity as Party leader, welcomed us in a warm little speech and we then all replied for two or three minutes each. The speeches were very well received, and afterwards we had the privilege of meeting large numbers of the members of the Kuomintang. It was interesting in that connexion to see the President of the National Government, Dr. Lin Sen, taking his place as an ordinary member sitting in the front row, while the Generalissimo as Party leader presided.

We also had the privilege of meeting, by consideration of the Generalissimo, the leaders of the minority Parties. We took a great liking to them all. First and foremost the Communist leader, General Chou En Lai, the Communist representative in Chungking. General Chou En Lai was a very frank and open chap, and it was clear from what he told us that while the war lasted he and the whole of his 500,000 Communists up north, had only one thing in mind and that was to assist the Government and the Generalissimo in driving the Japanese out of China. The leaders of the other Parties are also extremely likeable men. Of course they are not allowed much political organization, and I presume they have to do most of their work somewhat underground. One thing which perhaps we stressed more than anything else in the many speeches that we were called upon to make was the fact that the Chinese war was our war too. I do not know how many times we impressed upon our audiences that whatever happened, if the European war should be finished first, our forces would be sent East to throw the whole of their weight into the defeat of Japan.

I want to say a word about entertainment. I would like to describe one scene. After a very long day up in the north-west we arrived at the railway station at midnight, three hours late on programme time. We should have been there at nine o'clock. When we arrived we found the whole of the approaches to the station packed thick with 30,000 people holding up flaming torches. They had been waiting there for three solid hours on a bitterly cold night in order to see us off. I mention that particular episode as being typical of the marvellous reception we had wherever we went in China. We had the same sort of welcomes at Paochi, Chengtu, Kunming and other places, and everywhere we went, whether it was a large town or a small village, whether we were attending a public function or a private one, whether indoors or out of doors, in almost every room we entered and every street we passed, in every arsenal, cotton mill, coal mine, every little workers' factory which we visited, in all the hospitals, orphanages, schools, wherever we went, there were flags and bunting. As we entered a door there were the crossed flags of Britain and China, there were pictures of His Majesty the King and the Prime Minister, there were slogans up on the wall in English stressing Sino-British unity, there were V's for victory on the walls.

A few days ago I was bidden to attend a Government luncheon in honour of the Chinese Military Mission and the reason I have given your Lordships that narrative about our entertainment is to call attention to the sad contrast in our method of hospitality. One walked through the sombre portals of a very excellent West End hotel—no flag, no bunting, no picture, no decoration of any sort, an atmosphere of austerity. We had a cocktail, we walked into the dining room, a cold, arid white tablecloth down the length of the table, not a piece of silver. I will not suggest that the forks were not silver, but there was not a piece of plate, not a sign of anything. To make matters even worse, when the Chair- man got up to make his speech of welcome to General Hsiung, who did not speak or understand English, there was no interpreter to translate the Chairman's speech for him, and the Chinese Military Attaché, who was sitting next to him, had to keep up a running whispering commentary to our chief guest, trying to put him abreast of what was being said. When we were in China, every time we attended these entertainments, the moment the Chairman had made his speech in Chinese up came the official interpreter and read through the whole speech in English for our benefit. I do beg that if and when tile time comes, as we all hope it will, that some representative Mission comes to this country from China, we shall exercise a little more imagination in our form of entertainment and show a little warmth instead of that iceberg aridity to which I have referred. England will not lose its identity thereby.

I would like to associate myself very much with the tribute paid to Sir Horace Seymour and to tell your Lordships that on several occasions in the course of conversation spontaneous tributes were paid in my hearing by both British and Chinese alike to the great work that the British Ambassador is doing out there. I had intended saying a few words about things we saw in India, all of interest, but there is no time now and it must be put off to another occasion. My noble friend has, I think, sufficiently described our time in Egypt. We saw many interesting things. I would just like to stress one thing and that is the need, if I may venture to say so, for the British Council work out there to be increased as much as possible. I was very glad to see that the Chairman, Sir Malcom Robertson, arrived in Cairo while we were there. There are various ways in which the work of the British Council could, I think, be increased with great benefit. One thing in particular that is required is to assist the Anglo-Egyptian union which is doing remarkably good work out there. We were privileged to attend a reception which they gave for us. We all made them a little speech and the atmosphere was just too friendly and nice for words. But they are inadequately housed, and I venture to suggest that funds should be made available through the British Council for the construction of new and more suitable premises.

Nothing could have exceeded the great hospitality we received while in Cairo at the British Embassy. It has been my good fortune to be a guest there on many occasions during the past three and a half years of war and my prolonged sojourn there this time has only served to intensify the admiration I have always felt as a detached observer for the work of that great servant of the Empire, Sir Miles Lampson. It was a source of great satisfaction to us that we should have been there when the announcement was published of his Peerage. It is greatly to be hoped that still higher and even more arduous duties may await this massive pillar of the State with his engaging personality and his unique experience of the Oriental mind. Such elevation could only result, I feel sure, in great benefit to the country and the Empire.


My Lords, it is indeed a privilege to be the first speaker from this side of the House to thank the two noble Lords for the full and fascinating report to which we have just listened. I think it is a matter of the utmost satisfaction to all of us that your Lordships' House should have been so worthily represented, and I cannot help feeling that the emphasis both noble Lords placed on the additional things we can do for China was particularly happy. I am sure it will receive the consideration of the Government. Since the two noble Lords spoke in your Lordships' House immediately after their return from China, I have happened to meet several Chinese friends who are in direct contact with Chungking and the Embassy in London. All the reports they have received confirm what we have already heard about the immense popularity and really striking success of the Parliamentary Mission. Those of us who listened to the account of their journey given by the delegation a short time ago to members of both Houses in the dining room in another place, realize that since their return they are completing the good work they have so admirably begun. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that they set out as British missionaries and came back as Chinese missionaries. Indeed I am quite relieved to find that neither of the noble Lords has in the least degree lost the power of speech in his native tongue.

I would venture to make a very short contribution to this discussion because I imagine I have had a rather exceptional opportunity of studying the attitude of the British public towards China. My experience of popular sympathy to the Chinese people as victims of Japanese militarism and of the intense admiration felt for the manner in which, without Allies and practically without arms, they resisted the attack of a modern and well-equipped Army and Air Force, goes back as far as the late summer of 1937. It was then, as your Lordships will remember, just five and a half years ago, that the Japanese began their occupation of Northern China. Soon afterwards, in I think typically British fashion, a small group of men and women, holding the most varied opinions and pursuing every sort of occupation, met round a table to talk over what should be done for China. They decided to form a committee of which I still have the honour to be an officer, though not participating as a soldier in their activities, with the object of stirring up and giving expression to public opinion, in order also to raise money for medical relief for the sick and wounded, and in order further, I confess, to be a thorn in the side of our Government until they had given all the assistance in their power to China. To-day I am happy to say it is no longer necessary for the committee to exercise that function.

I remember two illustrations which I venture to offer which show, I think, the deep sympathy for the Chinese cause that is rooted in our working people. In those early days public meetings on China were mainly attended by wage-earners and I remember how, after a collection had been taken for the Chinese wounded, it was pointed out that a half-crown on the tray had been given by a man who had no other means besides his unemployment benefit. Even more striking was the action of the dockers at Southampton and Middlesbrough. Those men risked their livelihoods in order not to load cargoes of scrap iron on to Japanese ships for Japanese munition industries and in order not to unload Japanese goods which were intended for sale in this country. I have no doubt at all that popular sentiment is even stronger and more widespread now than when those incidents happened, and it provides a sound basis for co-operation both during and after the war.

I certainly do not wish to raise the problem of military assistance from which both noble Lords who have just spoken so carefully steered clear. Those problems were discussed exhaustively in your Lordships' House a fortnight ago. The question how much can be done in the Pacific, in view of commitments in North Africa and other parts of the world, is best left to those military and political leaders who can see the war situation as a whole. I do believe, however, that serious thought and discussion should begin now about ways and means of keeping peace in the Pacific after Japan has been defeated. I hope this subject will be taken up by Mr. Eden while he is in Washington. Reference at his first conference to the need for making it impossible for Japan to start another war, suggests that that may be the case.

It is obvious that no really satisfactory solution can be found for the problem without agreement between the British Commonwealth, Russia and the United States and, of course, China. Vice-President Wallace, in his recent remarkable speech, referred to the necessity for closer co-operation between the United States and Russia. This is surely a splendid opportunity for our Foreign Secretary to act as the honest broker between the parties. I hope we shall make it plain to all concerned that we shall not shirk our joint responsibility as one of the United Nations for keeping the peace in every part of the world. The Pact with Russia to stamp out aggression in Europe for twenty years after the war may well be regarded as a model for collective security on a large scale. If we can promote agreement between those Powers on which the security of Asia will depend, and induce them to join with us in collective action against any country that may break the peace in the Pacific, we shall have done much to ensure the stability of the post-war world.

Second only in importance to a collective guarantee of security for China in the future, is the provision of the many kinds of modern economic equipment that will be needed to raise the standard of her people and to realize the potential wealth to which the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, has already referred. We are witnessing a gradually developing industrial revolution in China, a most useful symptom of immediate progress in an agricultural community which has been severely retarded in this case by civil and international strife. There will be a demand immediately after the war for skilled technicians, for machinery, for machine tools, and also, of course, for the means of building a vast network of roads and railways that will open up the immense territories of China. These demands can only be satisfied if Britain and the United States are prepared to participate in the framing of plans for the economic future of China. Nothing could be more advantageous in the long run to manufacturing and export countries like our own than an increase in the purchasing power of the inhabitants of these densely populated Asiatic areas. They form the greatest potential market in the world. Here we have a possible factor in the maintenance of employment in the older industrial nations. It is clear to everyone since the abrogation of our last concession on Chinese soil that we do intend henceforth to respect, in the letter as well as in the spirit, the independence and integrity of China, and a degree of public control over foreign trade and investment should be able to prevent private economic interests from exerting the unfair pressure that has too often marred, in the past, the development of backward territories.

I should like to conclude—I hope that if have kept my promise of being, perhaps, the briefest of ill the speakers today—by making two practical suggestions for a better understanding, an even better understanding, between ourselves and the Chinese. The first suggestion is that the two-way traffic of visitors from China to Britain and from Britain to China should be steadily increased. We have been delighted to receive recently the Military Mission to which my noble friend Lord Ailwyn has referred, one of whose members I also had the honour to meet. But we should welcome other Chinese visitors, and most of all, I think, the brave and beautiful and accomplished wife of the Generalissimo, Madame Chiang Kai-shek. No ambassador from China would be more welcome than this gracious lady, and our disappointment would indeed be biter if her doctors should not allow her to cross the Atlantic. I wish we could also arrange for an exchange of representatives of a number of leading professions. The success of the recent visit of a group of Turkish journalists to this country encourages the hope that we may give some Chinese journalists a similar opportunity to study our war effort at first hand. The remarks of the noble Lord who has just spoken have made it plain that there is an urgent need for a batch of British journalists to be dispatched to China. We might also introduce Chinese teachers to some of our educational institutions and give them an insight into our educational methods. The more frequently this interchange between unofficial representatives of the two countries can take place, the more intimate and lasting will be their mutual understanding.

My second and last suggestion is that the Government, in conjunction with the British Council, should give more help—even more help than at the present time—to the Oxford Committee for Sino-British Co-operation, which is presided over by the Warden of All Souls. The excellent work done by this Committee has already earned the gratitude of the Generalissimo himself, that great man whose brilliant leadership has unified the Chinese nation by focusing on his person the patriotic loyalty of his fellow countrymen. One knows, indeed it is common knowledge, that the Chinese have a deep respect and reverence for learning, and to-day they treasure particularly text books that go out to them bearing on their fly leaves the magic name of Oxford. They, no doubt, have no desire to draw any invidious comparison, but they do need a greater number of English books for their universities, and other centres of higher education. And they require above all any of the most practical laboratory equipment for research in chemistry and physics that we can send. We could not more certainly earn the lasting gratitude of China than by helping to keep alive, in spite of the wanton destructiveness of the Japanese, that love of knowledge and proud tradition of learning which are among the salient and most delightful characteristics of the Chinese people.


My Lords, I would like to join with the noble Earl who has just spoken in paying a very sincere tribute to the gallant people of China; a people who have always had Great Britain's good will, and whose courage and endurance to-day evoke the admiration of the world. Sentiments of good will have ever been present in your Lordships' minds since before even the days of Lord MacArtney, who was the first Ambassador to that country in 1792, and no two more suitable representatives of your Lordships' House could have been chosen to make such sentiments known to these brave people and to their leader, the famous Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The two noble Lords, with very distinguished records in the Navy and Army and wide experience in public life, have created a deep impression in the minds of those they met in China, and having spent some years in the Far East myself, I know how much good can be done by two well chosen ambassadors such as the representatives of your Lordships' House most certainly were.

The occasion of this debate gives an opportunity that your Lordships will welcome of learning more about the present conditions that our Ally is facing both internationally and nationally, and also of hearing something of the future plans for post-war co-operation as between her, ourselves and the other members of the United Nations. That high ideals are afoot is clear from the pronouncements of leading figures both in the United States of America and in Great Britain. Mr. Wendell Willkie, to quote one, following his recent visit to China as the President's special envoy, has stated definitely that "racial exclusiveness is a thing of the past." His Majesty's Government, as your Lordships will remember, have, by their recent action, signified their agreement. It is not sufficient, however, to desire an end unless one both wills and plans the means of achieving it. Might I remind your Lordships that in 1868 the United States of America, by the Burlingame Treaty, granted the Chinese rights of free immigration and of citizenship, but between 1880 and 1894, Congress hastily framed laws that abrogated such rights? So your Lordships will appreciate the difficulties that must be faced in achieving those high standards of idealism adumbrated within the folds of the Atlantic Charter. But it is only by facing up to these problems now that we can hope to gain that measure of understanding that alone can enable us to reach an effective solution of these problems.

Propaganda has already been referred to by previous speakers in the debate. Propaganda, both Oriental and Occidental, has conjured up the vision of a new China, and the Generalissimo, without any question the greatest leader in China since the Revolution, said in 1929 that only the abolition of "unequal treaties," which granted ex-territorial rights to foreign nations, was then needed to ensure national prosperity. These rights, as your Lordships know, by the United States of America, by Great Britain and by other countries have been surrendered. The Press of this country has, with one or two exceptions, refrained from informative discussion, and the B.B.C., by its well-known policy of exclusion, has prevented a thorough-going investigation of the Kuomintang's picture of the new China. I think your Lordships will agree that for the past ten years the voice of British traders, formerly made known through Consulates, chambers of commerce and local associations, has been mute. For the same period, a very heavy censorship has been exercised over all sections of the Press in China. No information, therefore, has been supplied as of old through the China Year Book concerning those things which are of importance and the full understanding of which can alone lead to our being able to help forward the welfare of the people of China to the fullest extent, as we would wish.

During all this time, public opinion has been reassured in the belief that, as the late Mr. Ramsay MacDonald said in 1927, "the old China is dead, and the new China is destined to play a leading role in world affairs as a modern democracy of free institutions." It is more than ever necessary that your Lordships should be fully informed, so that the real China may be seen, appreciated and understood, and not a China of the mind, proceeding from the propagandist brain. Perhaps the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, in his reply will give your Lordships some information on the following points. First of all, what relations now exist and are likely to exist after the expulsion of the enemy between the politicians of the present régime and their opponents, and notably the Cantonese Party, the Northern War Lords and the so-called Communist faction? Secondly, perhaps he will tell us something of the nature and scope of the revised codes of Civil and Criminal Law, and of the methods by which justice will be administered to the foreigners in China who are now answerable thereto. Thirdly, perhaps he will deal with the status and organization of the opium traffic; and lastly, with the plans that the Government of China have in view for dealing after the war with the millions of armed men now engaged in guerrilla warfare.

We have a very deep admiration for the Chinese who are waging war, and who are beset with manifold difficulties, of which we have learnt from the two noble Lords who formed part of the important Mission which has just returned from China; but, if we look deeper, we must consider, I suggest, in addition, and pay tribute to, the way of life and the moral philosophy underlying it, and the nature of the political economy based on that philosophy. We see here something that has stood the test of time more successfully than that of any other type of civilization, and the admiration so engendered will surely make us the more anxious to help them with our far greater knowledge of the application of science and engineering to war, and make available the fruits thereof. When the noble Lord replies, I hope that he may see fit to inform your Lordships very fully on these matters, as only with a complete understanding can we hope to play our part in developing the great possibilities for the good of mankind in general that lie ahead. The noble Viscount, I feel sure, will speak with especial feeling on the Far East, in view of the very active and distinguished part played by his grandfather at the commencement of this century.


My Lords, this, I think, is one of those happy occasions, all too rare in your Lordships' House, when the Government are not required to make a reply in the ordinary sense of the word. This Motion, as I understand it, has been tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, in order to give himself and his companion, Lord Ailwyn, the opportunity of making a report to this House, which sent them on a Parliamentary Mission to China, on what they have seen there and what the Mission was enabled to accomplish in strengthening the relations between the two countries. I think that they have given an exceedingly satisfactory report. They have told us to-day a stimulating story, and even an inspiring story. It is always difficult for us here in this country, with the best will in the world, to visualize exactly how things lock at the other side of the world, just as, no doubt, it is very difficult for the Chinese to visualize exactly how things look here.

The two noble Lords who, with their companions from another place, have bridged space physically, have enabled us to-day, by their vivid accounts, to bridge space mentally, and I think that they have increased very greatly our knowledge of the unremitting efforts which are being made by all sections of the Chinese population in Unoccupied China in aid of the cause for which they, as we, are fighting. They have also, if I may be allowed a small digression, increased our admiration, if it could be increased, not only for the Chinese people and for their leader the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, but also for General Chennault, for the really magnificent fight which is being put up by him and his small band of fighters.

The Japanese have been accustomed—most impertinently, I have always thought—to describe this great and terrible war against a peaceful neighbour as "the Chinese incident." I suggest that it might far more truly be described by the people of China as "the Japanese incident." No people have had a greater or more ancient history than the Chinese. Wars and invasions have happened to the Chinese people again and again during the last two thousand years. But none for long has been able to interrupt the even tenor of Chinese civilization. We may be confident that the present troubles will be no exception to that rule, and that in the long, stately pageant of China's history the Japanese aggression will count merely as an episode. This episode may, indeed, well have one good result; it has already tended, and it will tend more in the future, to unite China to a greater extent, perhaps, than she has been united for many years in the recent past. The furnace through which she is passing will tend to weld her into a still greater unity under the inspiring leadership of her Generalissimo.

Moreover, there is another event which I think has had advantages for the Chinese people, and indeed for the world as a whole. The recent treaties which have been signed between China and His Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States of America will be exceedingly valuable in defining the relationships between the countries concerned and in removing anomalies, and will give an opportunity for putting the relations between us and the Chinese people on a status of absolute equality. That is an important and invaluable advance, and I believe it should be the beginning of a new and happy chapter of close collaboration between the two countries.

Noble Lords have mentioned the importance of Allied assistance to China. As the House knows, I dealt with that less than a fortnight ago in answer to a Motion tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and I do not propose, if the House will allow me, to go over the same ground again. There is, however, one aspect of assistance to China which was not directly covered by the noble Lord's Motion, and that is the financial aspect, and perhaps the House will allow me to say a very few words about that. As the House knows, it has throughout been the policy of His Majesty's Government to give all the assistance in their power to enable China to carry on her war against Japan.

In addition to support which His Majesty's Government have given by way of the Chinese Currency Stabilization Fund and the Stabilization Board of China to the external value of the Chinese currency, we agreed in December, 1941, to make arrangements that would ensure that no financial difficulties should prevent the Chinese Government from obtaining any of their requirements for war purposes in the sterling area. These were to take the form of Lend-Lease; that is to say, of terms involving no payment by the Chinese for munitions and equipment obtainable in the sterling area, and a loan of £50,000,000 for other requirements for war purposes at such times and on such terms as might be agreed between the two Governments. Owing to the difficulties of transport since the Burma Road ceased to be available, it has not been possible for the Chinese Government to import anything but the most urgent military requirements, and such of these as we have been able to supply have been under the Lend-Lease agreement and against the unexpended balance of two previous credits. My noble friend Lord Teviot raised the question of the other form of assistance, a loan to China, on which, as he knows and the House knows, negotiations are still proceeding. For a number of reasons, some of which I think he indicated in his speech, negotiations are not yet concluded on that loan. I think the House will therefore not expect me at this stage to make any public statement on the matter, but I can assure Lord Teviot that I will convey what he has said to-day to the proper quarter.

China has played an immense part in the past and, as I think we all believe, has an even greater part to play in the future. In this vital struggle for liberty and justice we are all of us proud to be associated with that wise, patient and heroic people. We are brothers in arms, and it is the privilege of brothers in arms to aid each other. It is a mutual privilege, and it is a mutual duty. It was, I think, Lord Ailwyn who said that the Chinese war is our war and that they had impressed that fact upon the Chinese people. It is equally true that our war is China's war. It is a mutual obligation, not a unilateral obligation; it is only on that basis that this war can be won. Lord Ailwyn also referred to the fact that China is a United States strategic sphere, and I think he said that he hoped that that did not mean that we should dissociate ourselves too rigidly from her affairs. If I remember aright, I have already given that assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, in the debate a fortnight ago; but I am very ready to repeat it to-day. We recognize to the full an obligation to assist China, and that obligation, so far as lies in our power, we are determined to fulfil. Our sense of obligation and our determination to help China has evidently, from what we have been told this afternoon, been transmitted by the two noble Lords to the Chinese people. It is quite evident that, so far as lay in their power, they have made the position clear, and I think all of us in this House owe them a most sincere debt of gratitude for the part they have played in improving relations between the two peoples.

Equally important, I think, is the service they have performed by their visit to Turkey. There is, I think, no question about the importance which His Majesty's Government attach to Anglo-Turkish friendship. As noble Lords know, relations between our two countries are based on a Treaty of Mutual Assistance signed on October 9, 1939, which is valid for fifteen years. The intimate and cordial relationship that exists between Great Britain and Turkey is vividly illustrated by the Prime Minister's visit to Adana last January. The communiqué issued after that visit shows the identity of interest between the two countries and the determination on our part to see that Turkey is supplied with those things which are requisite for the defence of her national integrity.

I think that community of interest was illustrated also by the visit of the British Parliamentary Mission to Turkey. It was in the closing days of last year that the Parliamentary Mission reached Ankara, and it is evident from what we have been told this afternoon that there too they played a very considerable part in making clear to their Turkish hosts the views and the outlook of the British people in this struggle. By these means they have, I have no doubt, done a signal service to our relations. The fact that this Mission was the first of its kind to be sent abroad by the Mother of Parliaments, and that it went out of its way to visit Turkey was certainly not lost upon our Turkish hosts. In spite of the handicap of communications in war-time we have been able to welcome in this country also guests from Turkey. A party of leading Turkish journalists visited this country last summer, and only recently a Mission of Turkish production experts have been able to inspect the manner in which we have organized our war effort. I am sure that the fruits of our experience will prove of immense value to them. Another party of leading Turkish publicists has recently visited India, and there is also at present in Egypt a party of high Turkish officials who have gone to survey the manner in which we have dealt with intruders in Africa.

I mention these visits because I am sure that the only way we really improve relations between countries is by mutual intercourse. In war-time mutual intercourse is a most difficult thing, unfortunately, to attain, and there is always a danger that, unless positive steps are taken, the nations, instead of getting to know each other better, may tend to be pushed apart. That would be deplorable, and therefore I hope and believe that this system of exchanges of visits which have begun in so happy a manner may be continued until, at the end of the war, the normal intercourse of civilization revives again. Great Britain and Turkey are Allies, each having the fullest confidence and trust in the other. We are also friends inspired with the same ideals, and we may look forward to a future in which the community of interests and the similarity of outlook which inspire us both will draw us ever closer together.

In the course of his speech this afternoon, Lord Teviot spoke very impressively about what he had seen of the Desert Army. It is not for me to deal with that subject to-day. It goes rather outside the scope of the Motion. But I would say this. I do not suppose that there is any one of us who is not deeply moved every time we think of the achievements of that magnificent force; of the things they have done, the things they are doing and the things that we expect them to do in the near future. I welcome very warmly what the noble Lord said on that subject this afternoon. We have been a little apt in the past to depreciate the feats of our own Armed Forces. It is rather a national failing. I hope that the time is coming now when that failing will be eradicated from our national character.

In conclusion I would say this to your Lordships. Those two noble Lords who have addressed us this afternoon have acted as our ambassadors of good will to these two great countries which they have visited. I am quite certain that they will feel that that long and arduous journey has not been in vain. We have learnt much to-day on many detailed matters. We have even had a slight rebuke from Lord Ailwyn on a matter of such detail as Government hospitality. I hope we shall all take to heart what he said to us. There is one other thing I would say before I sit down. Lord Sempill asked me a number of questions in his closing words with which he said he hoped I would deal. Most of his questions were of a very technical nature, and he had given me no notice that he was going to raise them. I should like to thank him for the tribute he has paid to my omniscience. I appreciate it very greatly. But I hope he will forgive me if I do not enter into such subjects as the opium traffic and the future of Chinese Parties. At the present moment I should guess that it would be as impossible for anyone to prophesy the future of Parties in China as it would be to prophesy accurately the future of Parties in this country.

It only remains for me on behalf of your Lordships once more to thank most sincerely noble Lords who have spoken for their efforts on behalf of our country; we are grateful for the account of their stewardship which they have given in the House this afternoon. They have done a good work and however long they live— and I hope it may be a very long time—they will always be able to remember that at one of the great crises of our history they did something which was of value not only to their own people but to the world.


My Lords, in just a very few words I must thank the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, for his very sympathetic speech in regard to China and I hope his not too flattering remarks in regard to what we have done. The whole Mission, I am sure, will welcome very much what the noble Viscount has said and we thank him very much indeed. I know I am voicing the opinion of my colleagues when I say that and again thank the House for listening so readily to our speeches this afternoon. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.