Newspaper clippings before & after PRC's establishment

The British Office of the Chargé d’Affaires in Peking, summer of 1967, from Robert Bickers website

Associated Press, 30 November 1948

No Threat To Hong Kong

A communist victory in China would not present any immediate threat to Hong Kong, in the opinion of officials and independent observers in the Colony.

As long as conditions in China remain unsettled Hong Kong will be of greater value to the economy of Communist China if it remains under British control, most people here — including Communist sympathisers — agree.

“In the first place,” said a well-known British banker, “the Communists, unless they are willing to risk war with Britain — and I don’t think they are — would have to repay us for our investment here if they wanted the colony. That they couldn't afford. Our investment here runs into millions, perhaps billions, of dollars.

“It will be years before the Communists or anybody else in China can afford to buy Hong Kong,” he added.

“The Chinese Communists need one city in this area that has a stable government and a stable currency, from which they can export the goods that they would produce in South China.”—A.P.
The Straits Times, 2 June 1949

CHARLES WINTOUR Says It’s Up To The British Business Man

ON Christmas Day 1941, after 16 days of continuous fighting with no prospect of relief outside, the garrison of Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese forces. 

Of the 11,000 Imperial troops who defended for the Colony, 1,000 had been killed or died of wounds, 1,000 were missing and 2,000 more were severely wounded. The island’s scanty supplies of water were almost exhausted: there was no effective defence against air attack: the Japanese deployed forces greatly superior in both numbers and equipment to the defence. For the resistance would only have resulted in useless slaughter.

Today Hong Kong is again threatened by the approach of hostile armies. And, again, the Colony is being reinforced. The Government is sending out 8,000 troops of all arms, which will bring the garrison up to a total of 12,000 men.

Will they be called upon to emulate the gallantry and heroism of their predecessors?

And, if so, would they prove any more successful in protecting this Gibraltar of the east from foreign invasion?

In Hong Kong, they do not expect that the Chinese communists will launch an open attack on the colony, whatever warlike threats may be made for propaganda purposes over the Communist radio. But the possibility cannot be excluded altogether.

The defence of the port clearly presents a number of well-nigh insuperable difficulties. The population is already more than double the prewar figure and is now estimated to exceed 2,000,000. The further influx of refugees is pouring into this British oasis of stability and prosperity from Canton now officially in a “state of war”.

Some hundreds of thousands of the population are suspected to cherish Communist sympathies. Well led, they could launch fifth column attacks on British troops and installation far more dangerous than anything even attempted by the French resistance forces during the war.

There is still no proper airfield. The 2 air strips at Kai Tak on the mainland near Kowloon have poor approaches; they have too few bombers; and in certain weather conditions, they have to shut down altogether.

The government are hastening forward plans for a new airport, but completion will take years.

Water supplies, as in 1941, may prove to be the most difficult problem of all. The reservoirs, built before the days of aerial bombardment, are mostly above ground and are extremely vulnerable to air attack. An army may be able to hold out days against overwhelming odds. It cannot hold out against a water famine.

The nearest friendly base is some 1,500 miles away. While the Royal Navy might keep the island supplied, such a task would place a fantastic strain on the resources.

Finally, the circumference of Hong Kong Island covers a distance of some 25 miles, while the coastline of the least territory amounts to four times as much or more. In fact, the length of the coastline to be defended is roughly equivalent to the distance between London and Nottingham.

Of course, it may be said that the Chinese Communist armies are a very different proposition from the highly trained, well equipped Japanese forces. Yet they have won control of immense tracts of China and are making rapid progress towards the South.

They have been well led; they have gained battle experience; they have either captured or bought most of the military supplies with which America attempted to bolster ‘the corrupt” regime of the Kuomintang; and they dispose unlimited manpower resources. The enemies of Mao-Tse-Tung would certainly prove a formidable enemy.

The conclusion must be that a far larger garrison than the 12,000 troops now gathering in Hong Kong would still experience the gravest difficulty in defending the territory successfully and even if they succeeded in holding out the economic life of the colony would be shattered.

Before the battle was over high explosives might blast the rocky island back to the bare and desolate state in which the British found it when the island was ceded to them 100 years ago.

Would the Chinese Communists welcome the destruction of the richest port in the East? Would they welcome war with the British Empire and perhaps other nations of the Western world?

Most of the evidence points the other way. The Old China Hands who have studied the policy of the Chinese communists believe that Mao-Tse-Tung and his far more able colleague Chou-en-Lai wish to make the fullest use of Western capital and know-how in developing China’s vast untapped resources.

The Communists was toward to the rapid industrialisation of China and they can only obtain the necessary finance and technical skill from the West. Russia has nothing to spare.

Here, then, lies the best defence of Hong Kong. It is not armed men in uniform who will save Hong Kong from attack, but the brains, experience and abilities of British and American businessmen in the East.

For this reason, the British business men who are now staying behind in Shanghai to guard and restore British trading interests there are probably doing more to defend Hong Kong than the Minister of Defence can hope to achieve.

But the British Government has the duty of finding a diplomatic path to an understanding with the Chinese Communists. A former high representative of the Government with the Nationalist Government told me the other day. We should recognise the Communist Government. If we sit staring at each other like two porcelain dogs docs on the mantelpiece, the Chinese Communists will only have the Russians to turn to. We still don't know whether the Chinese Communists will turn out to be more Chinese than communist. We should help them to make up their minds the right way. 

Yet even if we establish ordinary diplomatic relations with the Communists — and until the position of the Amethyst, still anchored among the mud-banks on the Yangtse, is cleared up, it is difficult to see how this country could grant full recognition – the British hold on Hong Kong will certainly be subject to a constant propaganda offensive.

The communists may seek to stir up labour trouble.

The internal security of the over-crowded island will need constant watchfulness.

In any case, the territories on the mainland, which were leased to Britain for 99 years are due to be returned before the turn of the century. So Hone Kong is wisely preparing for the worst, while hoping for the best. As the Governor, Sir Alexander Grantham, has said: “We hope Communist China is going to be friendly toward a foreign power and a foreign place like Hong Kong. But these are hopes, not certainties.”

'Taiwanese in HK will get full civil rights'

Reuters 23 April 1984

TAIWANESE officials and organisations based in Hong Kong will enjoy the same civil rights as other groups after Beijing takes beck the British colony, a senior Chinese official said yesterday.

The official Xinhua news also quoted Ji Pengfei, head of the Hong Kong Affairs Office in Beijing, as telling a group of Hong Kong community leaders the colony's relations with Taiwan will remain unchanged when Britain's 99-year lease on most of the territory expires in 1997.

“When the Chinese government resumes the exercise of China's sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, Kuomintang personnel and organisations from Taiwan stationed in Hong Kong enjoy the same rights as other residents organisations.

“Their legitimate rights and interests will be protected by law, provided they observe the local laws,” Mr Ji said.

“Relations between Hong Kong and Taiwan including sea and air transportation, economic and cultural ties and personnel exchanges will not be affected,” he added.

Mr Ji’s statement, the latest in a series of overtures to Taipeh, followed a visit to Beijing by British Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe which focussed on the future of Hong Kong.

Sir Geoffrey said in Hong Kong that any Sino-British agreement on the territory would be enshrined within a “formally recorded international agreement.”

Chinese leaders have frequently stated that the territory will be ruled by Hong Kong people as a special administrative region after 1997, and that its aggressively capitalist way of life will remain unchanged for at least 50 years.

Diplomats here say a tolerant attitude to pro-Taiwanese nationalists in Hong Kong after Beijing regains sovereignty would be that the communists are sincere in planning to allow the territory to maintain its present socio-economic system. - Reuters

New Chinese party send team to get local support

The Straits Times, 8 April 1952

The Third Force, a new Chinese political group, anti-Kuomintang and anti-Mao Tse Tung, with headquarters in Hong Kong, is believed to have sent an underground team of former politicians and military leaders to Singapore to gain a foothold for the party.

Singapore Special Branch said yesterday that they had no evidence of the team's presence in the colony but knew that propaganda magazines of the party were circulating in Singapore.

A Special Branch officer to the Straits Times: “There are two Third Forces propaganda magazines, The China Voice and Freedom Front Weekly, in the Colony. Both are published in Hong Kong.”

“Various Chinese public bodies in Singapore and the Federation have received copies.”

A Kuomintang member in Singapore, claimed, however, that several Third Force men, among whom were a former general and a politician, are in the Colony working for the support of the Chinese community.

He further claimed that the team had large financial backing, and that one of their plans was to gain support from business interests to keep the party supplied with funds for his work in the Colony.

The aim of the Third Force is to set up a new government for the “salvation of China.”

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