§ 17. Mr. Onslow
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British subjects are still detained in China; and whether he has had any recent communications from the Chinese authorities about them.
§ Mr. Anthony Royle
There are four British subjects believed to be detained in China, all for some three years. They are Mrs. Gladys Yang, Mrs. Epstein, Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Crook. Mrs. Yang is married to a Chinese citizen; the remaining three previously worked for the Chinese Government and have lived in China for many years. We are not certain that any of them wish to leave China. The Chinese authorities have provided us with no information about them, despite repeated representations. The most recent representation was on 23rd December, 1970.
§ Mr. Onslow
While naturally welcoming the release of Mr. Johnson, may I ask my hon. Friend to agree that there cannot be any real improvement in relations with China until it becomes routine for the Chinese Government to provide us with information about all British subjects who are missing and until they will give us consular access to those who are detained? Is he aware that this is as true for Hong Kong subjects as it is for United Kingdom subjects?
§ Mr. Royle
We are naturally anxious that the Chinese Government should give us full information about detained people. Our relations with China have shown a marked improvement in the last year. During 1970 seven British subjects, none of whom worked for the Chinese Government, were released by the Chinese authorities. We have left the Chinese Government in no doubt about our wish for a further improvement.
§ Mr. Rankin
Can the hon. Gentleman give any figures about the number of people who get into China via Hong Kong? Would it be unfair to suggest that it is courteous of the Chinese to keep some of these people when they succeed in getting in?
§ Mr. Gorst
Would my hon. Friend give an assurance that he will continue to press the Chinese authorities, because he knows that my constituent's sister, Mrs. Yang, has been the subject of a complete 29 black-out of information for a very long time? Is he aware that this is causing almost intolerable distress to my constituent and her family, particularly as her mother recently died without having received any information about Mrs. Yang?