957.53/2–1751: Telegram

The Chargé in the Republic of China (Dawson) to the Secretary of State

confidential   priority

1105. Deptel 783, February 16,1 Foreign Minister Yeh told Embassy officer today Hoi Houw seized because cargo was necessary military supplies for Chinese Communists and in effect bought with Chinese [Page 1919] Nationalist funds since defected Bombay branch Bank of China issued letter of credit for purchase cargo. Said 90 percent cargo transshipped from Isbrandtsen Flying Cloud and including large amount penicillin, typhus serum, X-ray equipment, chemicals, et cetera. Yeh stated ships log and master’s statement proved ship en route Tsingtao although Indian clearance only for Hong Kong.

Yeh said as soon as cargo unloaded and questioning completed which he hopes will be in few days ship will be released and none foreign officers harmed. Unusually large Chinese crew, including Chinese Nationalist defectors. One officer is Chinese, rest Norwegian.

When Embassy officer pointed out seizure violated pertinent undertaking by Chinese Nationalist Government, Yeh said Foreign Office agreed seizure vessel, hoped US Government would sympathetically view this action. He declared Chinese Nationalist Government had no intention not to adhere to its commitments US Government but considered this special case involving denial military supplies to enemy and recovery stolen property.2

Department pass Bombay, Oslo, Hong Kong; sent Department 1105, repeated information Hong Kong 266, Bombay, Oslo unnumbered.

  1. Telegram 783 to Taipei, February 16 (not printed) instructed the Embassy to request of the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of China an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the seizure by the Chinese Navy of the Norwegian vessel Hoi Houw. The Embassy was to point out that this action was in violation of principles accepted by the Chinese Government in its aide-mémoire of July 7, 1950 (the substantive portion of which, as transmitted in telegram 15 to Taipei, July 7, 1950, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. vi, p. 371) and of assurances that the Chinese Navy would interfere with no foreign shipping (as conveyed in telegram 386 from Taipei, September 16, 1950, not printed; 941.53/9–1650).

    In telegram 783 the Department also informed the Embassy in Taipei that while it had made serious efforts to prevent the delivery to Communist China of certain specific items included in the Hoi Houw’s cargo, the Department had not inspired the seizure (957.53/2–1651).

  2. Telegram 1117 from Taipei, February 20 (not printed) reported that the Foreign Ministry had informed the Embassy that the Hoi Houw had been released at 2 p. m. that day (957.53/2–2051). Further details were given in despatch 137 from Taipei, February 26, not printed (957.53/2–2651).