136 Attlee to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 50 LONDON, 13 March 1943, 5.55 p.m.


Commonwealth Government telegram No. 57 of 10th March. [1] Chinese Extra-Territoriality.

As Canadian Government may already have informed you they have concurred in issue and terms of draft Order in Council. [2] New Zealand and South Africa have also concurred.

2. We fear that the course suggested in last paragraph of your telegram would not be practicable for reasons given in latter part of paragraph 2 of my telegram D.570 of 22nd December. [3]

3. Chinese Government have already ratified both the United Kingdom and United States treaties and have enquired position as to United Kingdom ratification of treaty of 11th January. We are therefore anxious to proceed to ratification as soon as possible.

4. We appreciate difficulties of Australia, but it occurs to us that in any event having regard to period and circumstances in which the rights in question were acquired, the Chinese might possibly argue that Australia has no separate extra-territorial rights to bargain with. Whatever might be the answer to this it would clearly be better if Chinese were not given opportunity of raising such contentious issue.

5. In view of political and practical difficulties mentioned above, we hope that on further consideration Commonwealth Government may be, able to join other Dominion Governments in agreeing to Order being issued in the form proposed. [4]

1 Document 133.

2 The Canadian Govt in fact did not inform the Commonwealth Govt of its intentions until 19 March. See cablegram 2 on file AA:A989, 43/735/313.

3 On file AA:A989, 43/305/2, v. The relevant sentence read:

'Any other procedure (e.g. revocation of Order in Council as regards British subjects other than those belonging to Dominions which would necessitate subsequent Orders in Council in respect of Dominions on conclusion of their treaties) would be impracticable as there is only one Court for all British subjects.' 4 The Commonwealth Govt advised Attlee on 16 March that it was prepared to join with the other Dominion govts in issuing the Order in the form proposed. See cablegram 61 on the file cited in note 3.

[AA:A989, 43/735/313]