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Historical documents

366 Full Cabinet Submission by Evatt

Agendum 761 CANBERRA, 6 December 1944


The Chinese Minister [1] recently raised again the question of a
treaty between China and Australia abrogating extraterritorial
privileges on the same lines as that signed between China and

2. Before Sir Frederic Eggleston left for China in 1941 this
question was considered by the Advisory War Council. [2] Sir
Frederic was told that Australia was in favour of abrogation and
should act with other parties interested. He therefore, when in
China, urged on the representatives of the United Kingdom and the
United States the desirability of abrogation. This was intended as
the termination of a system which was not suitable to modern
conditions and as a gesture of friendliness and goodwill to the
Chinese Government and people.

3. The Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States
started negotiations in October, 1942, and on January 11th, 1943,
treaties were signed.

4. Australia then started negotiations for a separate treaty and
proposed to the Chinese Government in January 1943 a simple treaty
confined to a renunciation on the part of the Commonwealth of
extraterritorial rights and privileges in China. [3]

5. On 29th January, 1943, the Chinese Government submitted a
counter-proposal which contained provisions virtually the same as
the Australian proposals but added articles dealing with
reciprocal rights of travel, residence and commerce, consular
representation and a mutual undertaking to negotiate a general
treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, etc. [4] At the time
it was felt that these additional provisions were irrelevant to
the main matter. Such clauses, however, were included in the
United Kingdom and the United States Treaties.

6. In pursuance of the United Kingdom Treaty a United Kingdom
Order-in-Council was made on 22nd March, 1943, abolishing the
British machinery in China by which the privileges flowing from
extraterritoriality were made effective; this Order-in-Council
recited that the Commonwealth of Australia had requested and
consented to the making of the Order as regards those interests
with which it was concerned.

7. On the view that as the Commonwealth had adhered to the Order-
in-Council and that extraterritorial privileges were at an end so
far as Australia is concerned, an exchange of Notes was thereupon
proposed by the Australian Government in lieu of the proposals to
negotiate a treaty. [5] No progress has been made with this

8. On the 14th April, 1944, the Government of Canada signed a
Treaty and Exchange of Notes with China containing the additional
provisions referred to in paragraph 5 above.

9. Since the signature of the Canadian Treaty, the Chinese
Government has repeatedly expressed the wish for conclusion of a
similar treaty with Australia. In present circumstances it is
clear that the conclusion of such a treaty between Australia and
China will have substantial political value.

10. Attached hereto as Annex 'A' [6] is the text of a treaty
drafted on the general lines of the Canadian Treaty to each clause
of which has been appended a note on the point involved. A draft
Exchange of Notes, similar to those accompanying the Canadian
Treaty, is also attached as Annex 'B'. [7]

11. These documents are submitted for the consideration of Cabinet
with a view to the authorization of negotiations with the Chinese
Government for an agreement on the lines generally indicated


1 Dr Hsu Mo.

2 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. V,
Document 33.

3 See ibid., vol. VI, Document 106.

4 ibid., Document 110.

5 ibid., Documents 137 and 150.

6 Not published.

7 Not published.

[AA:A2700, VOL. 13, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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