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Mr. Gareth Jones.

Mr. Gareth Jones whose savage murder roused the indignation of the British community out East, had collected material for what promised to be one of the best book ever written on the Pacific. The writer was privileged hear Mr. Jones read extracts from his notes, and very startling would his revelations have been, with all the interest of Percy Fleming’s book, backed by a far deeper knowledge of political affairs.

Mr. Gareth Jones was a man of really charming personality, and the gift of infectious good spirits and happiness of disposition. He had an amazingly clever hand with children, and could improvise fairy tales of a kind that held the grown ups equally enthralled with their fancy and wit. In his last adventure he must have taken such interest in his captors and their ways, recognising fully that it was "all in the way of business," and have sought to preserve genuinely friendly relations. He would be the first to see their point of view. Some of us will find it hard to believe that it was just a crime either of callousness or of sudden panic. That is not quite the way of Chinese brigands. Other captives have been held for months and then released safe and sound, after many threats and perils. But often with no great personal feeling against their captors.

The Hong Kong Critic




August 25th 1935

The callous murder of Mr. Gareth Jones sent a thrill of horror and indignation through the British community out East. A good many of US in Hong Kong heard Mr. Jones speak briefly and modesty, of his work with Mr. Lloyd George, and most of us recognised in him one of the line of gallant English adventurers, who take their lives in their hands, and go out into the unknown and troubled places of the earth.

Long ago they were patriotic freebooters like Drake, then they were explorers like Thomas Cook, than Missionaries like Livingtone.

To-day there the news seekers—Percy Fleming is just such another—the aviators and the camera men who go unarmed to study tigers and headsmen in the interests of science.

To those who read closely the negotiations followed Mr. Jones’s capture, a sorry and sordid tale was revealed, without one single relieving feature on any side. Very early it became apparent that this young Englishman had been caught in the swirl of troubled waters, and his chances of emerging alive

If there had been the least honesty generosity or goodwill in any quarter concerned, his release would have been art easy matter. Supposing for the moment that Mr. Gareth Jones was captured by genuine brigands of that the evidence is not clear either way—what the brigands wanted was money and arms. The trouble with dealing with black mailers is always that when you fulfil your part of the bargain they cheat, leaving you where you are and repeating the same demands with ~increased threats, but Chinese brigands generally have a rough honesty, and the probability is that if the ransom had been paid then the captive would have been released.

There were two curious things about the incident. The first was the release of Dr. Mueller. 1t is very seldom that the captive is so re1eased. Of course the brigands, having their Manchester Guardian and other works of reference, including files of Hong Kong papers, may have known that in Mr. Jones they had a well connected young man for whose safety every effort would be made, while Dr. Mueller was a much less valuable captive. Somehow, one doubts this astonishing prescience in simple minded brigands of the demilitarized zone.

The second curious incident was the readiness of the Chahar government to find the ransom any ransom apparently up to $100,000. despite the fact that they had warned Mr. Jones that they would not be responsible for his safety. And yet that same government, while the negotiations were in progress, ~ truculently informing Nanking that its Treasury empty, and nothing could be sent to the Central Government of China. A clear hint there of several things, which need not be labored. All who follow affairs in the North can read quite clearly.

Then there is the curiously vague and muddled story of a Chahar official being actually sent.

The generous General Chu Teh-Chun , Chairman of the Chahar government is supposed to have actually sent an emissary to the bandits, with an installment of $100,000. Dr.Mueller reports, however, that the bandits never received the money.

It is very curious, too, that no efforts to get the ransom were made from the British side.’~ It is utterly unreasonable to suppose that his father would not have been ready to help, that Mr. Lloyd George, who evidently had a deep affection for him, and is one of the most generous of men, would not have helped, and even the old Foreign Office itself would have done something more than send an assistant attaché to "do what he could. There is something strange here, for normally kidapping is impelled by one reason only, namely money, and in China the game is quite systematised and ought to have been played without any difficulty. It is easy to theorise, all may have been honest and above board, but it has not got that appearance.

Whether that is so or not, it is quite certain that contact with Mr. Jones was lost, that the negotiations were bungled, that he was taken over the Jehol border and passed on to another band. These bandits proceeded to make impossible demands and then on being attacked turned on him.

Renter gives a final "explanation of the crime". The district magistrate who was conducting the negotiations in their final stage, did not inform his next door colleague of what was going on. All that that conscientious worthy knew was that the brigands were entering his territory, so, very dutifully, he sent his troops to attack them. This made the honest brigands doubt the sincerity of the negotiations, so they took the straightforward course of murdering this young man who was proving more of a liability than an asset.

What else could one expect them to do

Reuter of course knows that this is all arrant nonsense as any of us, that a Chinese official keeps his post by knowing exactly what is happening all round him, and playing the correct moves on the complicated chessboard of Chinese political intrigue. A false move, a lack of knowledge and he, and his family will very soon be chucked out of the lucrative gold mine called public office. In other words Reuter is saying that Mr. Jones was a victim of oriental intrigue.

It is easy to see that there is more to the incident than the petty avarice of brigands, and the possible peculation of ransom money.

Already the Chinese are accusing the Manchukuo authorities of deliberately obstructing the negotiations.

It is quite obvious that efforts were made to create another international incident.

It is the object of the Chinese to show that the demilitarised zone is a nest of brigandage in which, owing to Japanese interference it is impossible to preserve any sort of security. They wish also to show that in Manchukuo the same state of affairs exists, and the so called efficiency and beneficence of Japanese government are a fraud and a lie and conditions where they govern are worse than in China. What better demonstration than the capture and murder of this young Englishman, and all that went between.

Nor can the Japanese have been blind to the probable reactions between England and China. Here on the very eve of the arrival of the Leith Ross Mission is an incident that might rouse British resentment, and contribute that personal factor which every now and then cuts right across the dehumanised interplay of finance and commerce.

A firm will suddenly drop negotiations with people that have committed a murder, and take an alternative offer. Who knows, a real chance of putting a spoke in the British wheel.

Thus we have Colonel Tan Takahashi, the suave attaché, so prominent in the recent Northern crisis— the very man who delivered an ultimatum expiring at midnight, which was to have sealed the fate of Peiping — offering his services.

It may all have been genuine, the efforts of the Charhar Government and the good offices of the Japanese, but intrigue is so much part and parcel of the East that no one believes that it was suddenly suspended, and replaced by clear wells of sincerity.

Rival Methods


What instruction there is in this incident in the rival methods of Britain and China. Japan siezed Manchuria because a Japanese staff officer travelling in the interior disappeared and was murdered. Peiping and Tientsin were almost taken because a party of Japanese officials were arrested and detained a few hours by some minor official at Kalgan. The day before the news of the murder of Mr. Jones was released, a single shot was fired at a junk with Japanese notables on board, and flying the Japanese flag.

An incident was threatened, but as it happened none was needed at the time. A few weeks ago, a silly article in a Chinese paper at Shanghai precipitated another crisis; then a gunman’s crime aroused another!

England has tried the "gunboat policy", and has decided that it has been found wanting.

At the time of writing there is talk of a protest at the murder of Mr. Jones. If one is presented it will be very mild, and apologetic. We shall make all the capital we can out of our "reason and moderation," in a time of great difficulty to Nanking.

Sir Frederick Leith Ross. is on the way. Chinese opinion must be placated. Because a rash young man is killed by brigands that is no reason why a contract for machinery, or warships, or railway equipment should go elsewhere. Commercial interests are involved, and that means not only individual profits and directors fees, but work and wages for British labour.

A nice pass England has reached when the livelihood of decent Britons depends upon whether British statesmen can do the correct grovel and spread the correct palm oil among Chinese "war lords" and politicians, whose corruption and selfishness arc a bye-word among their own people. A nice pass when we have to beg our bread from such folk.

In the eighteenth century Lord Macartney seeking to further trade between great Britain and China refused to kow-tow to the magnificent Emperor Kien Lung. In consequence his mission did not do all that had been hoped.

England, however, got along quite well despite the fact that he sacrificed pecuniary advantage to prestige.

We can imagine the instructions had he been sent out on his mission to-day. "Kow-tow. Of course kow-tow. You’ll damn well eat the dirt at the Emperor’s feet, and clean his boots with your tongue, or stand on your head, or do anything else he talk you, if you can get in return the concessions we want. You can get on with it, or get out". Thus would speak that tightfisted old god Avarice, whom we worship so blindly—that old god who steals the living wage from British workmen with one hand, and fosters every hit of dirty business out East with the other. If business between England and China were clean there would be no political trouble.

It would pity in the end if all shady business were turned down. Firms who have acted on that principle do well. Now and then they lose a hit here and there, but in the end the clients worth having come back to them. This was to a large extent the old, Victorian way, though no one claims it was 100per cent clean, but today, we all know the epithet which business has attracted to itself in its scrounging this way and that.

The life of a gallant young Englishman, who had already dared to expose the hell-black villainy of the Russian government in concealing a famine, and dooming millions to death, rather than cease export of grain, and call for foreign aid, was nothing to "commercial interests at Home." He was a young fool who had run his head into the noose, just as a generation ago ‘Chinese’ Gordon was an old fool and further back still, Clive a disturber of the Peace, and of nabob profits.

But the nasty, flabby, old gentlemen, who, for the sake of their profits, have made such havoc if the world that statesmen must perforce seek any kind of business, no matter how dirty, in order to keep their people in work will one day be destroyed, and in England it is young men of the type of Gareth Jones, who will accomplish the task. He was pursuing that task out East, as he had pursued it in Russia, and he was one of those who knew too much.

The story of one hand of brigands handing the captive over to another group is yet another curious feature. This second group is promptly extirpated except for one wounded man, who produces just the story needed to give verisimilitude to this bald and unconvincing narrative.

Life is cheap out cast, and so are lies, and all that matters arc money and face. However, even if we have to leave it at Nanking’s bland assurances, at least let it be known that we know pretty well what happened.

Since this was written Dr. Mueller has clinched our contention. No warning was given on the contrary a permit was issue , and a route mapped out. No doubt what Dr Mueller says will be either denied or disregarded, but once more it has been said, "It is expedient, but the official pronouncement on the consequences are not "believed to this day’.
















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