On 15 August 2023, H.E. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang attended the special screening of the documentary The Sinking of the Lisbon Maru at invitation. About 450 people took part in the event, including Mr Fang Li, President of Laurel Films which produced the documentary, Major (Ret’d) Brian Finch, who has over the years been committed to collecting the historical documents on Lisbon Maru, and representatives of the families of British prisoners of war (POWs) on board the Lisbon Maru.
After the screening, Ambassador Zheng delivered remarks. He said that as President Xi Jinping pointed out in his letter to Mrs Denise Wynne last year, the touching story of heroic fishermen from Zhoushan, who came to the rescue of British POWs on board the Lisbon Maru in 1942, is an important testimony to China and the UK fighting shoulder to shoulder against fascist aggression during World War II.
Ambassador Zheng noted that on the Oriental Main Battlefield of the World Anti-Fascist War, the Chinese people fought heroically against Japanese aggression for 14 years. They endured great sacrifice and ultimately defeated aggressors. And on this very day, 15 August 1945, Japan announced its unconditional surrender. In the fight against fascism, China and the UK were allies and the Lisbon Maru Incident is one of the best examples of people from both countries supporting each other at difficult times.
Ambassador Zheng noted that history must not be forgotten and called for joint effort to carry forward the shared remembrance and turn it into a new linchpin for friendship between the Chinese and British people. Against a complicated world which is far from being tranquil, as permanent members of the UN Security Council and countries with important global influence, China and the UK must join hands in opposing disinformation and demonisation, championing dialogue and understanding, resisting division and confrontation, and upholding exchanges and cooperation. Working together, the two countries can bring more benefits to their peoples and make new contributions to world peace and development.
Representatives of the family members of British POWs aboard the Lisbon Maru shared stories of their loved ones, and expressed again their gratitude for those Zhoushan fishermen who bravely participated in the rescue.
In October 1942, the Japanese military used the Lisbon Maru, a Japanese freighter, to ship over 1,800 British POWs from Hong Kong to Japan and the ship was torpedoed by an American submarine off the coast of Zhoushan. Thanks to the heroic rescue efforts by Zhoushan fishermen, 384 British POWs were saved.