Concessions and leases in international relations

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In international relations, a concession is a "synallagmatic act by which a State transfers the exercise of rights or functions proper to itself to a foreign private test which, in turn, participates in the performance of public functions and thus gains a privileged position vis-a-vis other private law subjects within the jurisdiction of the State concerned."[1] International concessions are not defined in international law and do not generally fall under it. Rather, they are governed by the municipal law of the conceding state. There may, however, be a law of succession for such concessions, whereby the concession is continued even when the conceding state ceases to exist.[1]

In international law, a lease is "an arrangement whereby territory is leased or pledged by the owner-State to another State. In such cases, sovereignty is, for the term of the lease, transferred to the lessee State."[2] The term "international lease" is sometimes also used to describe any leasing of property by one state to another or to a foreign national, but the normal leasing of property, as in diplomatic premises, is governed by municipal, not international, law. Sometimes the term "quasi-international lease" is used for leases between states when less than full sovereignty over a territory is involved. A true international lease, or "political" lease, involves the transfer of sovereignty for a specified period of time. Although they may have the same character as cessions, the terminability of such leases is now fully accepted.[2]

American concessions[edit]

Austro-Hungarian concession holders[edit]

Belgian concession holders[edit]

British concession holders[edit]

Held by the United Kingdom[edit]

  • On 9 June 1898, the New Territories (comprising areas north of Kowloon along with 230 small islands) were leased from China for 99 years as a leased territory under the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory. On 19 December 1984, the UK agreed to restore all of Hong Kong—including the territories ceded in perpetuity—to China on 1 July 1997.
  • On 20 November 1846, a British concession in Shanghai (in China) was established (after the 16 June 1842 – 29 August 1842 British occupation of Shanghai, since 17 November 1843 a Treaty Port); on 27 November 1848, this concession was expanded, but on 21 September 1863 (after the 1862 proposal to make Shanghai an independent "free city" was rejected) an International Settlement in Shanghai was created by union of the American and British concessions (consummated in December 1863).
  • On 29 December 1877, representants of North Borneo Chartered Company met Abdul Momin, Sultan of Brunei. Before, in January 1876, Gustav Overbeck purchased from Joseph William Torrey for $15,000 the concessionary rights of American Trading Company of Borneo to territories in northern Borneo, conditional on the successful renewal of the concessions from local authorities. Overbeck was appointed Maharaja of Sabah and Rajah of Gaya and Sandakan in a 29 December 1877 treaty with Brunei Sultan Abdul Momin, who still claimed ownership of northern Borneo.[5] The Sultan agreed to make the concession for 15,000 Spanish dollars. However, since it turned out that the Sultan of Brunei had already ceded some areas to the Sultan of Sulu, further negotiations were needed. With the assistance of William Clark Cowie, a Scottish adventurer and friend of Sultan Jamal-ul Azam of Sulu, the Sultan signed a concession treaty on 22 January 1878 and received 5,000 Spanish dollars.[6]
  • The British concession of Tianjin (Tientsin), in which the trade centred, was situated on the right bank of the river Peiho below the native city, occupying some 200 acres (0.81 km2). It was held on a lease in perpetuity granted by the Chinese government to the British Crown, which sublet plots to private owners in the same way as at Hankou (Hankow). The local management was entrusted to a municipal council organized on lines similar to those at Shanghai.[7]
  • The British concession on the Shamian Island (Shameen Island) in Guangzhou (Canton).

See also[edit]

Privately held[edit]

Canadian concessions[edit]

Following the First World War the French Republic granted Canada perpetual use of a portion of land on Vimy Ridge under the understanding that the Canadians were to use the land to establish a battlefield park and memorial. The park, known as the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, contains an impressive monument to the fallen, a museum and extensive re-creations of the wartime trench system, preserved tunnels and cemeteries.

Chinese concessions[edit]

Between 1882 and 1884, the Qing Empire obtained concessions in Korea at Incheon, Busan and Wonsan. The concessions were occupied by Japan in 1894 after the outbreak of the First Sino-Japanese War. After China's defeat in that war, Korea (now with Japanese support) declared the unequal treaties with Qing China to be void, and unilaterally withdrew the extraterritoriality and other powers granted to China in respect of the concessions. The concessions were formally abolished in 1898.

Dutch concessions[edit]

In Japan, since 1609, the Dutch East India Company had run a trading post on the island of Hirado. Also, after a rebellion by mostly Catholic converts, all Portuguese were expelled from Dejima in 1639. So, in 1641, The Dutch were forced, by government officials of Tokugawa shogunate, to move from Hirado to Dejima in Nagasaki.[8] The Dutch East India Company's trading post at Dejima was abolished when Japan concluded the Treaty of Kanagawa with the United States in 1858.

French concessions[edit]

Finnish concessions[edit]

  • Saimaa Canal: leased from Russia under 1963 and 2010 treaties in period of 50 years; civilian and commercial administration

German concessions[edit]

All in China:

Italian concession[edit]

Japanese concessions[edit]

In China:

In Korea (Chosen), before the Annex of Japan-Korea (1910):

  • Busan
  • Incheon

Portuguese concession[edit]

Romanian concessions[edit]

Romanian Institute in Albania: Scientific organization in the Albanian town of Sarandë, subordinated to the Romanian Ministry of Education between 25 July 1938 and 1 November 1940.

Russian and Soviet concessions[edit]

  • The Russian concession of Tianjin (Tientsin).
  • one of the concessions of Hankou (Hankow; now part of Wuhan).
  • Hanko Peninsula, a peninsula near the Finnish capital Helsinki, was leased for a period of 30 years by the Soviet Union from its northwestern neighbour—and former possession in personal union—Finland for use as a naval base in the Baltic Sea, near the entry of the Gulf of Finland, under the Moscow Peace Treaty that ended the Winter War on 6 March 1940; during the Continuation War, Soviet troops were forced to evacuate Hanko in early December 1941, and the USSR formally renounced the lease—early given the original term until 1970—in the Paris peace treaty of 1947. The role of the Hanko naval base was replaced by Porkkalanniemi another Finnish peninsula, a bit farther east at the Gulf of Finland, in the armistice between Finland and the Soviet Union of 19 September 1944; the Porkkala naval base was returned to Finland in January 1956. In both cases, the Soviets limited themselves to a military command, without any civilian administration.
  • Khmeimim Air Base in Syria is leased to the Russian government for a period of 49 years, with the Russian government having extraterritorial jurisdiction over the air base and its personnel.[11][12]
  • Since 2015 after the Donbas and Crimea invasion Russia agreed to lease 300,000 hectares to China for 50 years for $ 449 million US dollars. The lease can be extended in 2018 if the first stage from 2015 to 2018 was successful. Russia needed the Chinese funds to replace a shortfall caused by western sanctions. [13][14] The Transbaikal region borders with China, and the lease agreement stirred up a maelstrom of controversy and anxiety in Russia.[15] China will send a massive influx of Chinese workers to settle and work in the area.[16]

Spanish concessions[edit]

  • On 22 July 1878, Spanish forces operating from the Philippines forced the Sultan of Sulu to surrender in the Spanish–Moro conflict, the Sultan of Sulu relinquished the sovereign rights over all his possessions in favour of Spain Suzerainty, based on the "Bases of Peace and Capitulation" signed by the Sultan of Sulu and the crown of Spain in Jolo on 22 July 1878, and permitted them to set up a small garrison on Siasi Island and in the town of Jolo.[17] These areas were only partially controlled by the Spanish, and their power was limited to only military stations and garrisons and pockets of civilian settlements. Causing Overbeck to lose his title and territory in the north-eastern areas just gained from the Sultan to the British Borneo. In 1885, Great Britain, Germany and Spain signed the Madrid Protocol to cement Spanish influence over the islands of the Philippines. In the same agreement, Spain relinquished all claim to North Borneo, which had belonged to the sultanate in the past, to the British government. Dividing Borneo in a Spanish and a British concession of the Sultanate of Sulu.[18]
  • Sultanate of Tidore established an alliance with the Spanish East Indies in the sixteenth century, and Spain had several forts on the island by concession, also conquering someones to Sultanate of Ternate (allied with portuguese and then with Dutch East India Company).[19]
  • All of Portuguese concessions in Africa and Asia were also Spanish concessions during Iberian Union.

Jointly held concessions[edit]

United Nations concessions[edit]

Foreign concessions in China[edit]

See also[edit]



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