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HomeLifestyleWhen China jailed two Americans living in Hong Kong for 10 months...

When China jailed two Americans living in Hong Kong for 10 months over a yacht trip to Macau

When China jailed two Americans living in Hong Kong for 10 months over a yacht trip to Macau

“Government is endeavouring to obtain further definite information on the three missing yachts with 15 local residents on board, believed to have been captured and detained by the Chinese during a holiday trip to Macao on Sunday [February 16, 1969],” reported the South China Morning Post on February 19, 1969.

“The 15 people on board the three yachts, Morasum, Uin-Na-Mara and Reverie, comprise 11 foreigners and four Chinese.

“First news of the apparent capture broke when a radio message was flashed from the yawl Morasum at 11.52am on Sunday that it was being boarded.

“A short while later, a passing vessel informed the Marine Department that three yachts were seen being towed by junks.”

Morasum, the yawl of Simeon Baldwin and Bessie Hope Donald, in Hong Kong. Photo: Chu Ming-hoi

On February 22, the Post reported that “China has not yet replied to a Government request for information about the 15 missing people on board the three yachts seized in Chinese waters last Sunday.”

On April 5, under the headline “HK rolls out red carpet for yacht crews”, the Post reported that “nine foreigners and four Chinese returned to the Colony on Thursday [April 3] after one-and-a-half months’ detention in China for ‘illegally intruding’ into Chinese territorial waters. Two Americans who sailed with them […] are still detained.”

Bessie Hope Donald (left) at Tsing Yi island, Hong Kong. She and fellow American Simeon Baldwin arrived in Hong Kong – along with their yacht – after being detained in China for 294 days. Photo: Chu Ming-hoi
Simeon Baldwin (front left) at Tsing Yi Island after being released by Chinese authorities. Photo: Chu Ming-hoi
Simeon Baldwin (back, second from right) and Bessie Hope Donald (back, right) at a press conference in Hong Kong after being released from a Chinese jail. Photo: Chu Ming-hoi

It wasn’t until December 7 that the last two detainees were freed.

“Mr Simeon Baldwin and Mrs Bessie Hope Donald yesterday celebrated their first full day on Hongkong soil after ten months’ detention in China by meeting friends and receiving cables from relatives in the US,” the Post reported on December 9.

“Their favourite food was another luxury they enjoyed yesterday […] black charcoal steak for Mr Baldwin.

“A spokesman from the US State Department said the release of the pair came as a surprise.”

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