FOREIGN residential areas in China are classed as "settlements" and "concessions," but the two types are similar, both being regions set apart by the Chinese Government within which foreigners may reside and lease land. In some eleven instances, local administrative agencies have been set up by foreigners and these agencies have been recognized either formally or tacitly by the Chinese Government. The theoretical distinction between a settlement and a concession lies in the methods by which the land in it is leased from the Chinese Government. In the concession, as a rule, the entire area is leased by a single foreign state which pays a rental for it; parcels of land are then subleased by the foreign state to private lessees. In the settlement there is no general lease undertaken by a foreign government, but private lessees obtain their properties directly from the local Chinese authorities. This distinction in landholding arrangements does not hold in some of the areas, and the terms settlement and concession have come to be used interchangeably.
Several of the concessions have reverted, in one way or another, to Chinese ownership. Hankow originally contained concessions of Great Britain, France, Russia, Japan and Germany. At present only the Japanese and the French concessions are left. The Russian concession was terminated by the Chinese mandate of September 23, 1920; the German concession by the mandate of March 16, 1917, which broke diplomatic relations with Germany; and the British concession by an agreement of February 19, 1927, which took effect on March 15 of the same year. On the same date the British concession at Kiukiang ceased to exist. The areas were designated by China as special administrative districts.
Originally there were eight concessions at Tientsin -- Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, Belgian, British, French, Japanese, and Italian. Today the first four no longer exist. The Russian and German concessions were terminated simultaneously with those at Hankow, and the Austro-Hungarian by China's declaration of war on August 14, 1917. On January 17, 1927 the Belgian Minister at Peking informed Premier Wellington Koo that
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