Hon. Brooke Claxion (Minister of National Defence):
Yesterday the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) asked for a statement on the situation in China, and I am now glad to give him one.
Communist troops began crossing the Yangtze river in force on April 21, encountering little opposition. Nanking, which was not defended, was entered some time on April 23 or 24. Communist armies are advancing towards the coast and the city of Shanghai.
Most Canadians in the Yangtze valley are now in Shanghai. One hundred and eighty-nine persons are registered as Canadians with the Canadian vice-consulate in Shanghai. In January, 1948, and twice in November, 1948, the Canadian embassy warned Canadians in north and central China that, in view of the spread of the civil war, all those who could do so should leave. Many followed the embassy's advice and returned to Canada. On April 25 the Canadian vice-consul published a notice in the Shanghai newspapers repeating and emphasizing this warning.
Canadians who wished to leave Shanghai, following the vice-consul's notice, were given an opportunity to embark aboard a Dutch passenger vessel bound for Hong Kong. Reports from the vice-consul indicate that the majority of Canadians now in Shanghai plan to remain in the city. The foreign community in Shanghai has taken all possible precautions to protect themselves in case there might be a period of disorder in the city.
.HOUSE OF COMMONS
Canadian Nationals in China
Some weeks ago two North Star aircraft were lent by the Royal Canadian Air Force to Canadian Pacific Air Lines, in order that survey and familiarization flights might be made prior to the establishment of regular flights to the Far East by Canadian Pacific Air Lines. I should like to express appreciation to the president of Canadian Pacific Air Lines, who has just returned from China, and who has placed one of the North Star aircraft at the disposal of the Canadian ambassador in case it should be required to assist in evacuating Canadians. This aircraft, which has already been into Shanghai, is now standing by at Hong Kong.
As I informed the house on January 28, the Canadian destroyer, H.M.C.S. Crescent was dispatched on a training cruise to the Far East in order to be available for the assistance of Canadians in an emergency. This ship is still in far eastern waters, and is ready to render assistance if required.
The Canadian ambassador, Mr. Justice T. C. Davis, and his male staff, have remained at their posts in Nanking. This city has been cut off from rail and telephone communication with Shanghai, but word has been received by radio that all members of the embassy in Nanking are well. The wives and children of the members of the embassy in Nanking, and the female staff, were withdrawn from Nanking some months ago. The Canadian vice-consul in Shanghai, Mr. Frank Ballachey, is looking after the interests of Canadians in that area. I feel sure that the house will appreciate the willingness of our officials in China and their staffs to remain at their posts in the face of the difficult circumstances now prevailing.