HC Deb 09 March 1936 vol 309 cc1775-7
11. Mr. DAY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reports he has had of the number of British subjects that have been captured and held for ransom or murdered during the past three years in China, and will he give particulars, and is he satisfied that the Chinese authorities provide adequate protection to British subjects; and does he propose to take any further steps to protect British subjects?


I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a brief statement of the cases in which British subjects have been murdered, kidnapped or held to ransom during the last three years. Including piracy cases, 17 British subjects and 70 British school children were involved in all: of these three British subjects were killed, the rest being eventually released. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that in the extremely unsettled state of affairs in many parts of inland China the local as well as the Central Chinese authorities give all the assistance that lies within their power: and they regularly inform all British subjects proceeding into the interior what are those regions which are unsafe for them to visit. The Chinese authorities also co-operate with the British naval authorities in the work of piracy suppression. Under the procedure at present in force British subjects are warned by His Majesty's Consular officers either not to proceed to, or to withdraw from, areas which are threatened by bandits or Communists, and should any British subject be molested, my right hon. Friend is satisfied that His Majesty's Consular officers do everything that is possible to secure the safety of the person concerned.


Does the Noble Lord agree that the Chinese do not exercise effective control over those districts?


I understand that they exercise what effective control they can.

Following is the statement referred to:

CASES of British subjects kidnapped or murdered in China, 1933–5.

29th March, 1933.—Piracy of steamship "Nanchang." Four British officers, Messrs. Johnson, Hargrave, Blue and Peters, were taken captive. Blue was released on 3rd April, and the others after negotiations on 8th September.

16th April, 1933.—Piracy of a Chinese Customs preventive launch. Two British officers, Messrs. Pearce and Baldwin, were killed.

17th June, 1934.—Piracy of steamship "Shuntien." Five British subjects, Lieutenants Luce and Field, R.N., and Messrs. Nicholl, Brand, and Watson, were captured, but were released on 23rd June.

1st October, 1934.—Mr. and Mrs. Hayman and Miss Emblem of the China Inland Mission, were captured in Kweichow by Communists. Mrs. Hayman and Miss Emblem were soon released: Mr. Hayman remained in captivity until 23rd November, 1935, when the negotiations for his release were at last successful.

29th January, 1935.—Piracy of steamship "Tungchow." Some 70 British school children were on board. The pirates abandoned the vessel without taking captives on 1st February.

4th February, 1935.—Mr. and Mrs. Frencham, of the China Inland Mission, were captured by Communists at Nitigkiang in Shensi. They were released in March.

27th July, 1935.—Mr. Gareth Jones, a British journalist, was captured by bandits at Kuyuan in Chahar Province, and shot by his captors on 16th August.