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The Feetham Report on Shanghai
THE Chinese Government has long been engaged in negotiations with foreign governments to change the treaties granting extraterritoriality in China. It has not yet succeeded in persuading them all to make the necessary modification, though in principle it is agreed that the régime should cease when certain conditions are fulfilled. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government, on May 4, 1931, issued a decree abolishing this privilege, to take effect on January 1, 1932. Regulations governing the exercise of jurisdiction over foreigners have been prepared to assure their appearance before special courts applying the new codes of law.
Realizing that the relinquishment of extraterritoriality will make difficult, if not impossible, the continuance of the present régime, the Municipal Council of the foreign Settlement in Shanghai said on December 6, 1929, that owing to the "publicly announced policy of the foreign Powers, and particularly America and Great Britain, with regard to the relinquishment of extraterritorial privileges in China, "the Council realizes the necessity of devising a constructive scheme which while giving full consideration to the aspirations of the Chinese people will, at the same time, afford reasonably adequate protection during this transition period to the great foreign commercial and business interests which have been developed in Shanghai." Since a plan of merely local origin might be looked upon with prejudice the Council determined to call in a foreign expert "thoroughly to explore the subject and develop its practical possibilities." Judge Feetham of South Africa was chosen. His accomplishments in South Africa and elsewhere in the British Empire have given him an outstanding reputation for clearness of vision and fairness of judgment. His report has now been published.
Judge Feetham's position was that of an adviser to the Municipal Council, not that of a conciliator as between the Municipal Council on one side and the Chinese officials on the other. His principal means of information were drawn from the Shanghai community, both foreign and Chinese, and his contacts, as he frankly says, with the Chinese Government and Chinese districts outside of Shanghai, were very limited.