The British Navy has announced a significant change in its century-old tradition by replacing Chinese laundrymen with Nepalese Gurkhas on warships. This decision, driven by concerns over potential espionage, marks the end of a long-standing practice that saw hundreds of Chinese laundrymen working on British ships since the 1930s. Most of these laundrymen hailed from Hong Kong, but recent fears of Beijing’s ability to access sensitive information by exploiting the loved ones of staff members have sparked the transition.
The move comes after three Chinese nationals were prohibited from joining the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, for its recent voyage to the South China Sea. Furthermore, a fourth Chinese laundryman, who had worked on naval ships for 39 years, was let go due to his family residing in Hong Kong. These ongoing concerns highlight the need for the Navy to prioritize security, even if it means severing historic ties with long-serving individuals.
Former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West acknowledged the difficult decision faced by the Navy, stating that “if it is a question of security, the Navy has no choice.” However, Admiral West also expressed sadness at the necessity of this change, recognizing the contributions and sacrifices made by Chinese laundrymen throughout history.
In replacing the Chinese staff, the Navy has turned to Nepalese Gurkhas. These soldiers from Nepal have a formidable reputation within the British Army and are known for their bravery and loyalty. By employing the Gurkhas, the Navy aims to ensure the security of sensitive information while upholding the tradition of having skilled personnel to fulfill essential tasks on its warships.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Why did the Navy decide to replace Chinese laundrymen?
The Navy made this decision due to concerns that Beijing could potentially exploit the loved ones of the Chinese staff to obtain secret information.
2. Who will replace the Chinese laundrymen?
The Navy has opted to replace the Chinese laundrymen with Nepalese Gurkhas, renowned for their bravery and loyalty.
3. What is the significance of this change?
This marks the end of a century-old tradition and highlights the Navy’s commitment to prioritize security and protect sensitive information.
4. How were the Gurkhas chosen for these roles?
Gurkhas were selected for their reputation as skilled and loyal soldiers within the British Army.
5. How many Chinese nationals still work for the Royal Navy?
There are currently four Chinese nationals employed by the Royal Navy, but they were vetted and given clearance because their families have relocated to Britain, making them less susceptible to interference from Beijing.
– The Sun