HC Deb 18 May 1949 vol 465 cc421-2
41. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will instruct our diplomatic representatives at Hong Kong to broadcast a statement declaring that we wish to pursue a friendly policy towards the Chinese people, to trade with them and to co-operate with them in measures likely to raise their standard of life.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)

The position of His Majesty's Government in these respects was made clear in my speech in the House on 9th December, 1948, and in the reply given on 25th January by my hon. Friend the Secretary for Overseas Trade in answer to a question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Austin). I do not doubt that note has been taken of these statements and I therefore see no reason for broadcasting a further declaration from Hong Kong.

Mr. Hughes

Has not the situation very much changed since then? Will the Foreign Secretary realise that we need to establish friendly relations with the Chinese Communists and not make the mistakes we made in Russia over the Russian Communists?

Mr. Bevin

I think that the Chinese people—I do not divide them into the categories in which my hon. Friend divides them—well know the British attitude.

Mr. M. Lindsay

In view of the fact that only one Chinese in 500 has a receiving set, what is the point of the hon. Member's Question?

Mr. Bevin

I would use broadcasting if there was any purpose to it. I do not determine the number of wireless sets in a country. One in five for propaganda may influence even the party to which the hon. Gentleman belongs.

Mr. Austin

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the Chinese people cannot read the reply which he gave me and which is printed in HANSARD? Will he also bear in mind that the best defence for our Nationals in Hong Kong and our national interests in China, is the maintenance of good relations with the Chinese, whether they are Communists or not?

Mr. Gammans

May I ask what diplomatic representatives the Foreign Office has in that British Colony and why the Foreign Secretary is answering this Question?

Mr. Bevin

It is because the Question is about what I should say to China. It is open to the Foreign Office to get permission to broadcast from a British Colony.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

In any case, is it not a fact that since the Corfu and the Yangtse disasters, we have no more cheeks to turn?

Mr. Bevin

I do not know how many cheeks the hon. and gallant Member has to turn.