HC Deb 22 January 1930 vol 234 cc212-4W
Sir W. de FRECE

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the extent to which the policy expressed in the memorandum of 18th December, 1926, has now been carried into effect with regard to China?


The memorandum of 18th December, 1926, suggested certain principles as the basis of the policy of the Powers principally concerned in China. These principles were:

  1. (1) The legitimate aspirations of the Chinese nation should be met as far as possible, and an attempt should be made to maintain harmonious relations with China without waiting for the prior establishment of a strong Central Government.
  2. (2) The idea of forcing foreign control upon China should be abandoned.
  3. (3) The right of China to tariff autonomy, as soon as she had herself promulgated a new national tariff, should be recognised.
  4. (4) The justice of the Chinese claim to treaty revision should be recognised, and rigid insistence on the strict letter of existing treaty rights should be abandoned.
  5. (5) Until formal treaty revision became possible developments should be so shaped as to effect it so far as possible in practice.
  6. (6) Protests should be reserved for cases where vital intereste were at stake.

These principles have been consistently acted upon since that date by successive Governments of this country and the right of China to tariff autonomy was formally recognised in the Sino-British treaty of 20th December, 1928. This had the effect of automatically regularising, so far as His Majesty's Government were concerned, the levy of the Washington sur-taxes by the Chinese authorities assent to which was specifically proposed in the memorandum. The question of extra-territoriality is now the subject of negotiations between His Majesty's Minister in Peking and the Chinese Government. An offer of various concessions was made to China by His Majesty's Government in a memorandum dated the 27th–28th January, 1927. The following steps have been taken in pursuance of that offer. The British concessions at Hankow, Kiukiang and Chinkiang have been returned to Chinese administration. The British concession at Tientsin has been reformed so as to place British and Chinese upon an equal footing as regards franchise and representation on the council. Modern Chinese law courts have been recognised as the competent courts for cases brought by British plaintiffs or complainants without the attendance of a British official representative at the proceedings. The special treaty privileges possessed by British Missionaries have been, or are in the course of being, surrendered.

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