HC Deb 26 July 1939 vol 230 cc1621-2W
Sir W. de FRECE

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received from the British Minister to China any despatches throwing light on the expulsion of Russian railway officials from Manchuria; and, if so, their nature?


Particulars of the action taken by the Chinese authorities were given in my reply to the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) on 15th July. I presume therefore that the hon. Member's question refers to the reasons for this action given by the Chinese Government. Sir M. Lampson reports that the following statement has been issued by the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs:

"On July 12th while in Peking I made a statement that the National Government is not inimical but entertains friendly feelings towards the Soviet Government. However, we are determined to exterminate communistic propaganda in China wherever found out and at whatever cost. The present attitude of the Soviet Government, however, has compelled the National Government to take precautionary and defensive measures. This is not to be interpreted that we have abandoned hope to have the question settled by peaceful means.

"The use the Chinese Eastern Railway has been put to as a base for communistic propaganda against China's government and existing social institutions and order by Soviet agents gives China the justification of resorting to the preventive and emergency measure of taking over the control of railway and its telegraph and telephone systems. It is absolutely incorrect to infer that we have nullified Russian interests in the railway. There is no ground for fear either on the part of Russia or of any other Power that foreign enterprises in China purely for legitimate purposes will not be duly respected. It is the fixed policy of the National Government always to use proper diplomatic procedure according to the established principles of international law in reaching an amicable and satisfactory settlement of outstanding issues between China and foreign Powers."

He further reports that, according to the Shanghai Press, a similar announcement was made by the National Government on 19th July. This included the following statements:

"Documents seized in the Harbin raid show conclusively that Soviet agitators had decided to organise assassination corps and military units directed against Chinese officials and the unity of China. Some documents also spoke of plots to destroy Chinese Eastern Railway.

"Practically all the Russians arrested in the Harbin raid May 27th were important employés in the Chinese Eastern Railway or Soviet institutions. The Chinese authorities have therefore been obliged to take over the Chinese Eastern Railway and to close the institutions concerned to nip serious trouble in the bud and maintain peace and order in Harbin."

Chang Hsüeh-liang, the Governor of Manchuria, verbally informed His Majesty's Minister that the documents seized in the raid on the Soviet Consulate-General in Harbin were more incriminating than those seized in the raid on the Soviet premises in the Legation quarter of Peking in 1927. Sir M. Lampson has not, however, seen the documents in question.

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