HC Deb 08 December 1952 vol 509 c9
16. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the attack by Chinese gunboats on the British freighter "Rosita," near Foochow.

Mr. Nutting

I am informed that the s.s. "Rosita" was intercepted off Foochow by two armed vessels, one of which fired a series of machine gun bursts after the "Rosita" had stopped. The master was killed. The raiders then boarded the "Rosita" and appeared to be sailing her to an island off Foochow, which is under Nationalist control. On learning of the death of the master, however, they left the "Rosita," which returned to Hong Kong.

A fuller report is awaited. Meanwhile, Her Majesty's Consul at Tamsui (Formosa) has been instructed to draw the attention of the Nationalist authorities in Formosa to the incident, to ask for a full investigation, and to reserve all rights.

Mr. Henderson

As this action, whoever was responsible for it, constitutes piracy, can the Minister say what action the Government are taking to safeguard our seamen on their lawful occasions?

Mr. Nutting

Her Majesty's Consul is making investigations into this case, and I should prefer to make no statement until we have a fuller report of what took place, in the light of information furnished to him by the provincial authorities in Formosa.

Air Commodore Harvey

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that whatever the report says, the captain of this ship has been murdered? Will he press the strongest possible claim for compensation and, in future, see that Her Majesty's Navy take the strongest possible action to protect British ships?

Mr. Nutting

If we can establish responsibility in this matter, Her Majesty's Government will certainly take the strongest possible action to demand and to receive compensation.