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Target Zhou Enlai: The “Kashmir Princess’ Incident of 1955*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 February 2009

Extract

On 11 April 1955 an Air India Constellation passenger airliner, the “Kashmir Princess,” flight 300 from Hong Kong to Djakarta, was sabotaged. It was chartered by the People's Republic of China (PRC) to take its delegation headed by Premier Zhou Enlai to attend the Bandung Conference in Indonesia. On the way to Djakarta with a Chinese delegation aboard there was an explosion, which caused the aircraft to crash into the sea. All eleven passengers were killed and only three members of the crew survived; Zhou was not amongst the victims.

Type
Research Note
Copyright
Copyright © The China Quarterly 1994

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References

1. Waijiaoshi Bianjishi, Waijiaobu (ed.), Xin Zhongguo waijiao fengyun (Diplomatic Relations of the New China), Vol. II (hereafter Waijiao fengyun) (Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 1991), pp. 140152.Google Scholar

2. British Government archives at the Public Record Office (Kew), Colonial Office series. Enclosure to X.C.S. 12/57, f. 9, 9 December 1957, CO1030/676.

3. Shijie, Li, Diaochaju yanjiu (Research into the Investigation Bureau) (Taipei: Li Ao chubanshe, 1988), p. 120.Google Scholar

4. “Sect. File no. CR 60/2616/58,” 22 August 1958, COI030/676.

5. British Government archives at the Public Record Office (Kew), Foreign Office series. Memorandum by R. N. Kao, undated, FC1383/326, FO371/115146; Waijiao fengyun, pp. 148–49.

6. Report summarizing the Police investigation, undated (?September 1955), FC 1383/298, for FO371/115145. The PRC's official account simply names this unit for masterminding the srd whole assassination.

7. Wu's alias was Yik-ching. Ibid.; memorandum by R. N. Kao, undated, FC 1383/326, FO371/115146, and Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 806, 23 August 1955, FC1383/255, tic FO371/115144. Unless otherwise specified, all numbers of British correspondences are for shi telegrams.

9. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 500, 2 July 1955, FC1383/174, FO371/115140; report summarizing the Police investigation, undated (?September 1955), FC1383/298, FO371/115145; Da gong bao (Hong Kong), (hereafter DGB), 12 January 1956.

10. Beijing Embassy to Foreign Office, no. 464, 9 May 1955, FC1383/117, FO371/ 115137.

11. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 861, 7 September 1955, FC1383/283, FO371I 115145.

12. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 645, 9 September 1955, FC1383/223, FO371I 115142; Washington Embassy to Foreign Office, no. 1432, 16 July 1955, FC1383/207, FO371/115142. See also ROC. Foreign Minister's submission to the Premier, 10 September 1955, Waijiaobu File 344.3.

13. Trevelyan, H. to Crewe, C. T., letter of 22 April 1955, FC1383/112, FO371/115137. Zhang told Addis on Sunday 10 April 1955Google Scholar, but the telegram containing the message was not decoded by Hong Kong until the next day.

14. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 323, 13 April 1955, FC 1383/1, FO371/115133.

15. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 325, 13 April 1955, FC1383/35, FO372/115134.

16. Waijiao fengyun, p. 141.

17. Ibid.; Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 323, 13 April 1955, FC1383/1, FO371/ 115133.

18. I. J. M. Sutherland's minute, 20 May 1955, FC1383/117, FO371/115137; Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 500,2 June 1955, FC1383/174, FO371/115140; and Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 464, 9 May 1955, FC1303/117, FO371/115137.

19. Wen hui bao (Hong Kong), (hereafter WHB), 28 May 1955; Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 325, 13 April 1955, FC1383/35, FO371/115134; Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 323, 13 April 1955, FC1383/1; and HMS Dampier to FOMA, Commodore Hong Kong, no. MM078, 13 April 1955, FC1383/3, FO371/115133.

20. Hong Kong 1955 (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1956), p. 235.

21. Report summarizing the Police investigation, undated (? September 1955), FC1383/ 298, FO371/115145.

22. Foreign Minister's submission to the Premier, 10 September 1955. See also Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 443, 20 May 1955, FC1383/149, FO371/115139.

23. Washington to Foreign Office, no. 2782, 17 November 1955, FC1383/325, FO371I 115146; and Governor of Taiwan to Deputy Consul (Tamsui), letter of 14 December 1955, FC1383/329, FO371/115146. The ROC Foreign Ministry's considerations are set out in Waijiaobu File 344.3, summarized in Foreign Minister's submission to Premier dated 10 September 1955; Premier's instructions to Foreign Minister dated 16 September 1955; and record of meeting between George Yeh and Karl Rankin (U.S. Ambassador) on 16 January 1956. The Foreign Ministry did not seriously try to ascertain Zhou's identity.

24. Zuijin guoneiwaijushi de tuiyan yu women fangongfuguojihua dejindu zhi shuoming (An Explanation of the Most Recent Developments in the Domestic and External System and of Progress in our Plan to Counterattack and Restore the Nation) (Taipei: Yang Ming Shan Zhuang, 1955), p. 20–21.

25. For the Crisis, see Stolper, Thomas E., China, Taiwan, and the Offshore Islands (White Plains: East Gate Books, 1985).Google Scholar

26. See Keith, R. C., The Diplomacy of Zhou Enlai (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1989), pp. 5987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar For an assessment of Zhou's role in the PRC's foreign policy-making in this period, see Kuo-kang Shao, “Zhou Enlai's diplomacy and the neutralization of Indo-China, 954—55,” The China Quarterly, No. 107 (September 1986), pp. 483–86.

27. Keith, The Diplomacy of Zhou Enlai, p. 22.

28. “Progress Report on NSC 146/2,” 14July 1954, file NSC 146/2-Formosa and Chinese Nationalist Government (1), Box 4, White House Office: Special Assistant to NSC: Policy Papers, Papers ofD. D. Eisenhower (Abileen: Eisenhower Library).

29. Eden, Anthony, The Memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden: Full Circle (London: Cassell, 1960), 55 p. 123Google Scholar; Tang, James, Diplomatic Relations with a Revolutionary Power: Britain's Experience with China 1949–1954 (London University: Ph.D. thesis, 1987), pp. 248254Google Scholar; and Lumin, Peaceful Coexistence and Anglo-Chinese Relations: The British Government's Policy towards China, July 1953-July 1954 (Oxford University: M.Litt. thesis, 1991), p. 175.Google Scholar

30. “Sino-British exchanges on the question of establishing full diplomatic relations,” 18 June 1970, FO371/75827.

31. Minutes by R. H. Scott (meeting with Han Li-wu), 5 January 1952, FC1024/1, FO371/99259.

32. Foreign Minister George Yeh said his colleagues widely believed this to be the case. Note of conversation between Yeh and Sir Edmund Leo Hall-Patch on 25 January 1955, hite Waijiaobu File 312.

33. “Chinese off-shore islands,” January 1955, File PM264/3/2 Part 2, Department of External Affairs Series 2619 (National Archives of New Zealand). For an analysis of Operation Oracle, see Dockrill, Michael, “Britain and the first Chinese off-shore islands crisis, 1954–55,” in Dockrill, Michael and Young, J. W. (eds.), British Foreign Policy 1945–1956 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989), pp. 177184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

34. President to Ambassador in Washington (for Foreign Minister), telegram, 27 January E 1955, File B.13.1(e) (Ceasefire Agreement), Box 145, Papers of Wellington Koo (New York: Butler Library at Columbia University).

35. President to Ambassador in Washington (for Foreign Minister and Ambassador), telegram, 29 January, file B.13.1(e), Box 145, Koo Papers.

36. See n. 24, p. 26.

37. For Zhou's performance at Bandung, see Keith, The Diplomacy of Zhou Enlai, pp. 81–87.

38. Memorandum by R. N. Kao, undated, FC1383/326, FO371/115146.

39. Hong Kong's Special Branch could not find any trace of this man, though it had uncovered many KMT intelligence rings in the territory in the 1950s. Had he been a regular agent stationed in Hong Kong, it would have been unusual for the Special Branch (and apparently the PRC secret service) to fail to find any trace of him.

40. The entire Hong Kong Group's monthly operational fund in 1958 was only HK$20,000 to HK$30,000. “Sect. File no. CR60/2616/58,” f. 7, COJ030/676.

41. See Yagang, Wan, Guogong douzheng de jianwen (The Struggle Between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party as I Have Seen and Heard) (Taipei: Li Ao chubanshe, 1990), pp. 173190Google Scholar; ShenZui, , Wo de tewu shengya (My Life and Career as a Spy) (Hong Kong: Jinling chubanshe, 1985), pp. 113–15.Google Scholar

42. Note handed over by the Chinese to the Hong Kong government, FC1383/190, FO371/U5141.

43. Ibid.

44. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 325, 13 April 1955, FC1383/35, FO371/115134.

45. Waijiao fengyun, p. 141.

46. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 464, 9 May 1955, FC1383/117, FO371/115137.

47. The runway at Hong Kong's Kai Tak field was 5,418 feet long; that at Bai Yun was 6,500 feet. The Xing Nin airforce base in Guangdong had a runway of 7,430 feet. The PLA in fact had quite a number of airforce bases in Guangdong with a standard runway of over 6,000 feet, longer than that at Kai Tak. Any one of them could have been used for the Constellation.

48. WHB, 14 April 1955.

49. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 367, 13 April 1955, FC1383/8, FO371/115133; and WHB, 17 April 1955.

50. Tsang's cover was blown in 1962 after (Sir) John Prendergast, who enjoyed the and reputation of being the best counter-intelligence officer in the British Empire, took over the Directorship of the Hong Kong Special Branch.

51. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 464, 9 May 1955, FC1383/117, FO371/115137.

52. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 504, 21 May 1955, FC1383/148, FO37I/115139.

53. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 774, 13 August 1955, FC1383/244. FO371/115143.

54. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 443, 20 May 1955, FC1383/149, FO371/115139.

55. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 479, 28 May 1955, FC1383/167, FO371/115140.

56. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 925, 8 October 1955, FC1383/300, FO371/115145. Background to Grantham's visit in Grantham, Alexander, Via Ports: From Hong Kong to Hong Kong (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1965), pp. 182–87.Google Scholar

57. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 532, 8 June 1955, FC1383/179, FO371/115140..

58. Renmin ribao (Beijing), (hereafter RMRB), 13 April 1955;DGB, 14 April 1955; and WHB, 14 April 1955.

59. The flight originated from Bombay, stopped in Calcutta and Bangkok, and arrived in Hong Kong at 12.15 p.m. It took off at 1.26 p.m. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 325, 13 April 1955, FC1383/35, FO371/115134.

60. The piece which set the tone for the rest was the 13 April 1955 editorial in Renmin ribao.

61. James Tang, Diplomatic Relations, p. 174.

62. Deacon, Richard, The Chinese Secret Service (London: Grafton Books, 1989), p. 345.Google Scholar

63. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 491, 16 May 1955, FC1383/135, FO371/115138.

64. BeijingtoForeignOffice.no. 522,27May 1955, FC1383/157, FO577/7/5759;/?M/?B, 28 May 1955 and 14January 1956; J.M.Addis to H.MacMillan, dispatch 175,29 June 1955, FC1383/227, FO371/115142; and Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 775, 14 August 1955, FC1383/245, FO371/115143.

65. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 522, 27 May 1955, FC1383/157, FO371/115139.

66. Grantham, Via Ports, pp. 183–85.

67. Lane, K. P., Sovereignty and the Status Quo: The Historical Roots of China's Hong Kong Policy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), pp. 78.Google Scholar

68. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 464, 9 May 1955, FC1383/117, FO371/115137.

69. Beijing to Foreign Office, no. 354, 12 April 1955, FC1383/1, FO371/115133.

70. Beijing to Foreign Office no. 366 and no. 367, 13 April 1955, and Minutes of 14 April 5, 1955 by C. T. Crowe, FC1383/7, FO371/115133.

71. Minutes by C. T. Crowe of 14 April, by Lord Reading of 15 April and by Harold MacMillan of 15 April, FC383/7, FO371/115133. The British suspicion was cleared later as the facts emerged.

72. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 325, 13 April 1955, FC1383/35, FO371/115134.

73. Waijiao fengyun, p. 141.

74. While the official history is not completely reliable as it appears to have used the Foreign Ministry records selectively for political reasons, it is unlikely to be inaccurate in explaining the procedures in the handling of this incident.

75. RMRB, 14 April 1955; and DGB, 19 April 1955.

76. Report summarizing Police investigation, undated (? September 1955), FC1383/298, FO371/115145.

77. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 806,23 August 1955, FC1383/297,/W7////5/45.

78. Washington to Foreign Office, no. 2318, 29 September 1955, FC1383/297, FO371/115145. U.S. Ambassador Rankin repeatedly urged Taiwan to return Zhou in order to clear itself of any complicities, and ascertain Zhou's identity. Summary record of meeting between G. Yeh and Rankin on 9 June 1955; record of meeting between James Shen (Acting Foreign Minister) and Rankin (undated) October 1955; and records of meeting between Yeh and Rankin dated 16 January and 1 February 1956;Waijiaobu File 344.3.

79. Grantham, Via Ports, p. 180; and Resume of Police Action, FC 1383/190, FO371/ 115141.

80. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 521,7July 1955, FC1383/189, FOi7//7/5/40;and Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 761, 10 August 1955, FC1383/241, FO371/U5143.

81. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 413, 12 May 1955, FC1383/137, FO37I/115138; and Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 675, 18 July 1955, FC1383/225, FO371/115142.

82. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 479, 28 May 1955, FC1383/167, FO371/115140

83. Ibid.

84. Minutes by Lord Reading, 27 May 1955, FC1383/170, FO371/11514.

85. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 676, 19 July 1955, FC1383/225, FO371/115142.

86. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 1067, 25 November 1955, FC1383/334, FO371/115146.

87. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 878 of 29 August 1955, and no. 892 of 15 September 1955, FC1383/257, FO371/115144; and Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 1005, 29 October 1955, FC 1383/308, FO371/115145.

88. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 1152, 19 December 1955, FC1383/346, FO371/115146; and Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 40, 15 January 1956, FC1381/9, FO371/120963.

89. Hong Kong to Colonial Office, no. 478, 21 June 1956, FC1381/38, FO371/120964.

90. Three of the victims were named as members of Zhou's delegation, and a fourth one, Huang Zuomei (Director of the Hong Kong Branch of the Xinhua News Agency), was under the State Council and was therefore also Zhou's own subordinate. Zhou Enlaixuanji (Selected Works of Zhou Enlai), Vol. 2 (Hong Kong: Yishan Dushu, 1976), p. 409.

91. General Yang Qie was, for example, eliminated by a hit squad in Hong Kong in September 1949.

6
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