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Attack On British Ship, China

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 21 June 1949

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(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make about the bombing of the British steamship "Anchises" in the Whangpoo River this morning?

His Majesty's Consul General at Shanghai has reported that at about 9 a.m. local time on 21st June the Blue Funnel ship "Anchises" was bombed and machine-gunned in Whangpoo River by aircraft, apparently P.51s belonging to the Central Government air force. The ship is beached and down by the stern. Four casualties among her crew have been reported, one of which has been found on admission to hospital at Shanghai to be less serious than at first supposed. This unwarranted attack from the air on a defenceless British merchant ship follows yesterday's radio announcement of the intention of the Chinese Government to blockade ports in Communist hands. No more formal notification of this intention has, so far as I am aware, been given. The representative of His Majesty's Ambassador at Canton has lodged an immediate protest and reserved the right of His Majesty's Government to demand full compensation. My right hon. Friend hopes to be in a position to make a statement shortly.

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Can he tell us whether any communication at all was received from the Chinese Government previous to the wireless announcement yesterday, to which he has just referred?

Will the hon. Gentleman make it absolutely clear, then, that in these conditions the action of the Chinese Government was absolutely unwarranted?

In view of the fact that these forces are sponsored, financed and armed by the American Government, will the Under-Secretary take up this matter with the Americans as well?