HC Deb 04 December 1946 vol 431 cc339-40
69. Mr. Paton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if conversations are taking place, or are intended to take place, between His Majesty's Government and the Chinese Government with a view to developing friendly relations between the two peoples through the extension of mutual cultural and trade interests.

71. Mr. Rees-Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what negotiations are now taking place between His Majesty's Government and the Chinese Government for a commercial treaty between their two countries.

Mr. McNeil

No conversations on the inter-Governmental level are in progress or prospect about mutual cultural interests. Such interests are being furthered by the British Council, through its representatives in China, who are in constant touch with the appropriate Chinese authorities. As regards trade interests, the Chinese Government were presented with our proposals for a commercial treaty earlier this year, and they have stated that they hope to be ready to begin negotiations in the near future.

Mr. Paton

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that, in spite of the efforts being made—by the Consular Service, I think he said—our influence in China is really non-existent? Is it not time, in view of the great desirability of continuing a friendly association with the Chinese people, that special steps should be taken to further it?

Mr. McNeil

I am willing to consider any special steps. I do agree with the substance of the argument, but we are extending our influence as best we can through the British Council.

Mr. Eden

Do I understand that His Majesty's Government desire the closest and fullest commercial relations with China, in accordance with the suggestion the hon. Gentleman has just made?

Mr. McNeil

Most certainly. To that end we have produced a treaty.

70. Mr. Rees-Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether in view of the satisfaction such a visit would give to the Chinese and British peoples, he will arrange for a Parliamentary good-will mission to visit China in the Summer Recess of 1947.

Mr. McNeil

His Majesty's Government are always glad to consider ways and means of strengthening the existing good relations between China and Great Britain, and to this end welcome in principle the suggestion to send a Parliamentary good-will mission to China, provided it were acceptable to the Chinese Government. The latter's views will be sought on this subject, as well as on the timing of the proposed visit.

Mr. Rees-Williams

May I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply and ask him whether he is aware that this proposal will probably receive gratifying response from the Chinese Government?