Cold War movie

Released papers support claim Taiwan tried to kill Zhou Enlai

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 12:00am

Declassified documents reinforce Beijing's position on plot

The central government has declassified a second batch of diplomatic papers, including documents that, news reports said, reinforce the mainland's position that Taiwan masterminded a foiled plot to assassinate premier Zhou Enlai.

The papers include about 80 documents on the assassination attempt. The decision to release the documents that draw attention to the plot appears meant to fuel the sentiment that hostile forces in Taiwan and Hong Kong have a long history of scheming against the mainland.

A total of 5,042 documents dating from 1949 to 1955 were made available to the public.

They include diplomatic recognitions, despatches from envoys and records from delegations to the Geneva Conference in 1954 and the Bandung Conference of non-aligned nations in 1955.

The Bandung Conference provided the backdrop for a plot to kill Zhou.

In May 1955, a bomb exploded on an Air India aircraft, and most of the passengers were killed when it crashed into the sea.

Zhou was supposed to have taken the aircraft to Bandung but changed his plans.

At the time, Beijing issued a statement accusing the US and Taiwan of conspiring to blow up the aircraft.

An investigation launched by the British government in Hong Kong attempted to trace the bomb, which appears to have been placed in a luggage compartment. Five airport workers were identified as suspects.

According to evidence produced by Beijing, the Taiwanese government recruited a man named Zhou Ju, who worked at the Hong Kong airport, to place a bomb on the plane while performing routine maintenance. He later fled to Taiwan, the Beijing Times reported in a story about the declassified documents.

During the past two years, Beijing has publicised the arrests and trials of spies. Last week a Taiwanese man was sentenced to four years in prison on charges that he spied on the military for Taiwan.

The first batch of 4,545 documents was declassified in January and a further 2,000 documents from the period would be declassified 'at appropriate time', said Lian Zhengbao, director general of the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Foreign Ministry in 1998 began declassifying selected diplomatic documents after 30 years.

The documents are chosen for release by a special committee composed of retired diplomats.

The committee reviewing the documents for release must ensure they meet the criteria of not jeopardising the mainland's external relations.

The documents can be viewed - for a fee - in a building next to the Foreign Ministry.