China spills Zhou Enlai secret
China has declassified a second batch of diplomatic files on 5,024 items, including the mid-air bombing of Air-India’s Kashmir Princess in 1955 in an apparent attempt to assassinate then Premier Zhou Enlai.
Among other documents, the files include material about the Kashmir Princess, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
On the night of April 11, 1955, the chartered Air-India flight was carrying Chinese and east European delegates, mainly journalists, from Hong Kong to Indonesia to attend the Asia-Afro Bandung conference. At about 18,000 feet, a time bomb detonated in the wheel bay of the plane, blowing a hole in the fuel tank. The flight engineer, the navigator and the first officer escaped. The remaining 16 passengers, including seven Chinese cadre and crewmembers, died.
Zhou, who was the main target, did not board the plane. His travel plans had been kept secret. The former premier did not leave China until April 14 when he flew to Rangoon to meet then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Burmese leader U Nu before going to Bandung.
The secrecy that surrounded Zhou's travel plans saved his life and doomed the Kashmir Princess. The same plane was scheduled to fly to Rangoon to pick up Zhou for his trip to Indonesia.
China declassified for the first time a batch of diplomatic files in January this year.
More declassified files will be opened in batches and by stages, its foreign ministry said.
An official with the ministry's archives said China will open the remaining over 2,000 diplomatic files from 1949-1955 at the proper time, and some of the files from 1956-1960 will be opened in late 2005 or early 2006.
According to China's archive law and relevant regulations, historical files should be open to the public 30 years after their creation.