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Representative Committee of Foreign Concessions in China (Twilight of a New Era)

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Representative Committee of Foreign Concessions in China
Comité Représentant de concessions étrangères en Chine
RCFC in China (TNE)

Member concessions

Headquarters Executive Board Tientsin (Tianjin)
Member countries concessions United Kingdom, Japan, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Italy and United States.
Observer member French Union, with limited participation
Main working languages English, French and Japanese
Other languages German and Italian
Area n/a
Population n/a
Establishment 1917-1946
Membership League of Nations (Observer status 1922-1946)

The Representative Committee of Foreign Concessions in China was originally created in 1917 as an unofficial interest group and lobby of the foreign commercial, manufacturing and banking of the concessions in China. By the end of its existence it was informally the chief co-coordinating and supervising body of almost all foreign concession in China, taking under its mandate major public works improvements and the unification of criminal law jurisdiction.

It gained observer status in the League of Nations in 1922.

Origins

The idea to join efforts and lobby to consular and Chinese authorities the interest of businessmen was triggered by the proclamation of the Chinese republic and the hostility of the KMT to the unequal treaties that were the legal basis of the concessions and free ports. Also the Civil War and local warlords hindered or threaten the commercial activities, so a common voice and efforts were to be channeled. In this last scenario the English and Japanese authorities were very keen in promoting this additional pressure group on the Chinese government and also gave a reason to keep troops inside China in order to defend lives and property of foreign nationals.

An additional goal was to form in some concession something similar to the International Settlement of Shanghai and to pool resources with the end to promote economic interests. During World War I a Joint Chamber of Commerce, a Banking Association and various joint trade and business groups were formed. These called for a joint assembly in 1917 in Tientsin in which the Committee was formed.

Composition of the Committee

The Representative Committee was made of the Assembly of Members and an Executive Board. The Assembly of Members, that meets annually, was integrated by the Joint Chamber of Commerce, the Banking Association, associations of joint trade and business groups, Municipal Councils and representatives of consular services. Each member had weighted vote assigned according to a by-laws. The Assembly annually elects its Executive Board which must have at least one member of the Municipal Councils and one of the consular services. Later in 1923, the Chinese Special Administrative Districts (SAD) were given membership and vote in the Assembly and a seat in the Executive Board.

The French Union, at first considered participating but finally allow only business interest to joint the Committee in a non-official status. The French authorities would unofficially participate in the activities of the Committee and subscribe and enforce agreements that interest them.

Development

After World War I, the First Chinese Republic established Special Administrative Districts (SAD) of Tientsin and Hankow from the former concessions of the German Empire and Czarist Russia. The SAD were administered apart from the Municipal City and in practice keep the same status and rights of the former concessions.

Civil Naval Ensign RCFC China (TNE)

Civil naval ensign of the Tienstin and Hankow and member concession of the Committee.

In 1925 the concessions of Tientsin and Hankow were merged, following the example of the International Settlement of Shanghai. The respective SADs were also made part of the merger.

As a result of the merger and along with the other international concessions a unified judicial district was agreed. The Extraterritorial Judicial District Protocol (EJDP) of 1926 recognized the jurisdiction of the consular courts of countries that had treaties with China in all concessions and established a procedure of internal extradition and a joint police register. The Police Board was in charge of coordinating communications and warrants of the courts and administer its register and use jointly the prisons. Later it was assigned the duty to issue identification documents for habitats and the register of vehicles within the concessions. The French Union joined the Police Board and EJDP in 1927.

In other areas of co-operation joint public works such water services, electricity, roads, were assigned to private contractors to built and administered.

Member Concessions

Not part of this Committee were the colonies and concession of the Portuguese Macao, the British Hong Kong, the Japanese Kwantung Leased Territory and the International Settlement of Shanghai.

The concessions of the French Union were not part of the Committee, however they were part of the unified foreign law jurisdiction and had municipal agreements of cooperation and transit.

Members concession and leased territories
Concession Area (hectare) Year established-terminated Notes
Tientsin International Concession 1.182,5 1925 Concession. Merger of English, Austro-Hungarian, Belgian, Italian and Japanese concessions and Chinese SAD to form Tianjin International Concession in 1925
Hankow International Free Port 124,2 1925 Concession. Merger of English, Austria-Hungarian and Japanese concessions and Chinese SAD to form Hankow International Free Port in 1925
Shaiman Island (UK) 30,0 1861 Concession
Weihaiwei (UK) 1898- Leased territory (1898-1930, 1930-1940). Capital Port Edward
Gulangyu Island 1902 International Settlement

Former concessions and leased territories
Concession Area (hectare) Year established-terminated Notes
Tientsin (UK) 373,0 1860-1925 Concession. Merged in 1925 to form Tientsin International Concession
Tientsin (Austria-Hungary) 60,7 1901-1925 Concession. Merged in 1925 to form Tientsin International Concession
Tientsin (Belgium) 87,8 1901-1925 Concession. Merged in 1925 to form Tientsin International Concession
Tientsin (German Empire) 149,3 1899-1921 Concession. Ceded to Austria-Hungary in 1921. Merged in 1925 to form Tientsin International Concession
Tientsin (Italy) 52,6 1901-1925 Concession. Merged in 1925 to form Tientsin International Concession
Tientsin (Japan) 131,5 1898-1925 Concession. Merged in 1925 to form Tientsin International Concession
Tientsin (Russian Empire), from 1925 SAD Tientsin  327,4 1903-1921, as SAD 1921-1925 Concession. Russian FSR renounced to its claim, restored to China as Special Administrative District. Merged in 1925 to form the Tientsin International Concession.
Hankow (UK) 46,5 1862-1925 Concession. Merged in 1925 to form the Hankow International Free Port.
Hankow (Russian Empire),  24,3 1886-1921, as SAD 1921-1925 Concession. Russian FSR renounced to its claim, restored to China as Special Administrative District. Merged in 1925 to form the Hankow International Free Port.
Hankow (German Empire), from 1925 SAD Hankow 40,5 1895-1921, as SAD 1921-1925 Concession. Restored to China as Special Administrative District. Merged in 1925 to form the Hankow International Free Port.
Hankow (Japan) 12,9 1898-1925 Concession. Merged in 1925 to form the Hankow International Free Port
Kiautschou Bay (German Empire) 55 200 1898-1925 Leased territory (99 year lease). Concession. Occupied by Japanese Empire in 1915, returned to China in 1925
RCFC in China (TNE)

RCFC in China

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