China (Anti-British Demonstration)

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th January 1948.

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Photo of Sir Martin Lindsay Sir Martin Lindsay , Solihull 12:00 am, 20th January 1948

(by Private Notice)asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the anti-British demonstrations in China.

The Minister of State (Mr. McNeil):

Demonstrations took place against His Majesty's Consulates-General at Canton on 26th January and at Shanghai on the following day. In the case of Shanghai, Measures taken by the Chinese authorities were successful in preventing demonstrators from entering the Consulate grounds. At Canton, however, I regret to say that the crowd, inflamed by tendentious reports concerning the eviction of Chinese squatters from the so-called walled city of Kowloon, broke through the weak guard provided and pillaged and burnt the Consulate-General and adjacent British commercial property. Four British subjects received slight injuries. The Chinese Government issued a statement on 16th January deeply regretting the incidents at Canton and instructing local authorities to accord adequate protection to British Consulates and nationals and to punish the rioters. His Majesty's Ambassador has been instructed to make written representations to the Chinese Government, taking note of the above statement, stressing the gravity of the attack on His Majesty's Consulate-General at Canton and adjacent property and claiming full compensation for all British property destroyed. His Majesty's Ambassador will also demand a public inquiry to establish the identity of the organisers and participants of the attack, the reasons for failure to prevent it, and the punishment of all persons found responsible.

Photo of Mr John Paton Mr John Paton , Norwich

Is it not the case that evictions of the kind which were alleged to have been the cause of this trouble have been going on for perfectly sound reasons in Kowloon and Hong Kong for years past, and, therefore, is it not likely that the alleged cause of these troubles is simply a subterfuge to conceal the fact that certain people were anxious to foment this trouble?

Mr. McNeil:

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Similar evictions have taken place for public health reasons, but, of course, I would not like to comment upon the possibility of other reasons being present here. I should prefer to wait for the inquiry which I hope the Chinese Government will implement.

Photo of Sir Walter Fletcher Sir Walter Fletcher , Bury

Will the right hon. Gentleman take care to ask that the possible source of these inflammatory rumours is traced?