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The British Naval Expeditions on the Suppression of the Kwangtung Pirates, 1927
Kwangtung Pirates;Bias Bay;British Navy;Anti-imperialistic Propaganda
|Issue Date: ||2016-11-11T06:15:34Z
Abstract:After the 30 May Incident in 1925, Canton-British relations broke down, so any military cooperation regarding the suppression of piracy was not possible. However, the problem of the Kwangtung pirates was still unresolved, and became increasingly serious as the regular traffic and shipping between Hong Kong and the Chinese coastline was became under great threat. The Governor of Hong Kong thus proposed that Britain should undertake punitive action against the pirate bases. After a complicated process of debates over policy and interdepartmental confrontation, the British Cabinet finally approved the Governor’s proposed military ex edition. In 1927, the British armed forces in Hong Kong undertook three punitive strikes against the Kwangtung pirates by not only dispatching a fleet of carriers, cruisers, sloops and gunboats to demonstrate naval power, but also by landing troops on Chinese territory to burn down villages of the so-called pirates. But this hardline policy was soon proved to be a ridiculous one. Britain was making a display of its powerful gunboats only to deal with small groups of pirates who only possessed rifles and pistols. The result of the hardline policy was incredibly frustrating, as the pirates retreated from their bases, but never abandoned their business! They successively relocated to other areas and continued to commit piracy on the South China Sea, where many British steamers fell prey to them. When these punitive actions appeared to be unable to prevent the pirates from pillaging, Britain had no other option but to abandon them and attempt to devise other possible solutions. In relation to this, the Canton authority (or Nationalist government) undertook a flexible, twofold approach to counteract the unilateral British military ex editions. One approach relied on domestic propaganda by labelling Britain’s suppression of pirates and destruction of villages as ＂Imperialist Violence.＂ This propaganda exaggerated the gravity of the event, overstated the casualties and losses, depicted it as a great ＂massacre＂, and moreover, employed anti-imperialist propaganda to evoke the indignation of the Chinese people to assist with the Nationalist Northern Expedition. The other approach was to formally launch diplomatic negotiations with Britain in order to claim compensation and extract an apology, yet simultaneously operate a small scale boycott against the Britain to aid with these negotiations. In the end Britain’s act of military vengeance was extremely controversial and problematic due to issues concerning complex treaty and international laws. Although based on treaties China was obliged to cooperate with Britain to suppress piracy on the Chinese coast, the treaties did not in fact authorize Britain to land its troops on Chinese territory to combat the pirates. Furthermore, while piracy was indeed an international crime, according to the usual practices of nations, active suppression of pirates was confined to be within the High Sea, and a nation’s forces was not permitted to enter the territory of other states, both sea and land. In other words, even though the British shipping companies were victims of Chinese piracy, the British government was still unable to undertake any military expedition within Chinese territory without prior consent from China, because otherwise this would be deemed as a violation of Chinese sovereignty.
|Relation: ||41, pp.149-210|
|Appears in Collections:||[海洋文化研究所] 期刊論文|
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