Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):
I should like to make a short statement regarding the treatment of Canadians in China.
The house will wish to know that the United Kingdom charge d'affaires in Peking today presented a note to the Chinese viceminister of foreign affairs on behalf of and with the approval of the governments of Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, regarding the treatment accorded their nationals in China.
The note referred to previous communications on this subject which had expressed grave concern for the widespread arrests and frequent detention incommunicado of foreign nationals, and also drew attention to the hardships suffered by persons who were prevented or delayed from leaving China. The note pointed out that new arrests had taken place and listed the names of fifty-five United Kingdom, Canadian, Australian and United States citizens who are now understood to be in jail. In addition, there is an undetermined number of persons who are understood to be undergoing one form or another of house arrest.
The United Kingdom charge d'affaires has asked the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs for information regarding the charges against those persons who have been arrested, the sentences, if any, which have been passed upon them, and their present whereabouts and welfare. He has also asked for facilities to enable him to communicate with them.
Of the fifty-five, seven Canadians are known to be imprisoned. They are Bishop Cuthbert O'Gara, Bishop Gustave Prevost, Sister Ste. Marie-Germaine, Sister Ste. Alphonse du Redempteur, Sister Raymonde Marie, Father Eugene Lauzon, Father Arsenius Mullin.
Reports received during the past eighteen months from individuals leaving China had indicated that Canadians had not in general been physically maltreated, although some had been subjected to imprisonment and to the humiliation and indignities of what we
would call mock "trials". We are therefore greatly shocked to learn of the death of Father Joseph Leon Arcand at the Franciscan mission hospital at Chefoo on February 8. He had been serving a six months' jail sentence and was brought in a deplorable condition to the hospital where he died shortly after his admission. This is the first case which has come to our attention in which there is reason to believe that the death of a Canadian missionary has been caused or hastened by serious neglect or maltreatment on the part of the Chinese communist authorities.
The fate of the five Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who were tried publicly in Canton on December 2, 1951, has of course been a continuing cause for anxiety. I know all Canadians were relieved to learn that the three sentenced to deportation had reached Hong Kong safely on February 28. However, when we received a first-hand account of their ordeal we were profoundly shocked by the deliberately callous treatment meted out to the sisters, apparently for the purpose of discrediting western humanitarian institutions in China. It seems to be the long-term policy of the Peking government to expel all western missionaries from China, or to make their lives so difficult that they will leave the country. In fact there has been a steady exodus from China of missionaries of all nationalities. According to our information, only 145 Canadians remain in China today, of whom about 100 are missionaries.
I know all hon. members share the concern of the government for the safety and well-being of Canadian missionaries in China and will be glad to be assured that everything within our means will continue to be done to assist them until they can get out.