HC Deb 26 November 1964 vol 702 cc1467-8
Q6. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that there cannot be general world disarmament without Communist China's participation; what assurances he has received from the Chinese Government of their willingness to participate in such a conference, and on what conditions; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

I do not consider that the disarmament process could go far without Chinese participation, although it might perhaps be possible to make a start on it.

The 18-Nation Disarmament Conference at Geneva has been working for an agreed programme of general and complete disarmament since its establishment in 1962. I have received no assurance from the Chinese Government about its willingness to take part in its proceedings. As I told the House on 10th November, I have received a message from the Chinese Prime Minister proposing that a Summit Conference of all countries be convened to discuss nuclear disarmament. I am considering a reply to this message.

Sir C. Osborne

Should a favourable opportunity occur when the right hon. Gentleman is in Washington, will he put it to the American Government that if the Chinese Government would drop their theory of the inevitability of war between the capitalist and Communist worlds there could be a recognition by the Americans of the Chinese Government and so we could have world disarmament?

The Prime Minister

It is not usual to say in advance what will be discussed or what will be on the agenda, but I cannot imagine any fruitful discussion of world affairs in the Washington talks which did not bring in the questions of China and disarmament.

Mr. R. A. Butler

How soon can we expect a reply to the Chinese initiative?

The Prime Minister

I think the House would agree that it would be desirable that these things should be left over for discussion in Washington.