The system of extraterritoriality now in force in China, which is to be reconsidered by the treaty powers in the forthcoming Peking conference with a view to its ultimate abandonment, is one of the main causes of anti-foreign sentiment in that country. The system has its basis in a series of treaties signed by the Chinese Government—the first with Great Britain in 1843—in which extraterritorial rights were conceded to certain foreign powers. Under these treaties the nationals of the treaty powers resident in China are not subject to Chinese law, but remain under the protection of their own national law, administered in China by their own national officials. The system is now looked upon by China as a derogation of her sovereignty and its abolition has been repeatedly sought by the Chinese Government.
The Nine-Power Treaty regarding the Far East, negotiated at the Washington Conference in 1981, provided for the appointment of a commission to make a thorough investigation of the system of extraterritoriality in China and to make recommendations as to the conditions under which it could be abolished. The commission was scheduled to meet at Peking, December 18, but the meeting will be delayed for a few days owing to the non-arrival of several of the commissioners.
Significance of the Peking Conference
The meeting at Peking is significant not only because of the importance of the problem that will be discussed but because it marks a further definite step in the willingness of the Powers to put into practical effect the more liberal sentiments toward China which were evidenced at the Washington Conference. The United. States Government then and since has repeatedly given expression to its determination to make every effort to remedy the conditions, which have tended to make the foreigner unpopular in China. The Tariff Conference held at Peking on October 24 last did much to restore Chinese confidence in the sincerity of these efforts. At that conference China was promised complete control of her customs after January 1, 1926.