HC Deb 24 January 1972 vol 829 cc949-52
12. Mr. Gorst

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give an assurance that there will be no change in the status of the British Mission in Peking until further information on the case of Mrs. Yang, who is detained by the Chinese Government, has been made available to the British Chargé d'Affaires.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Anthony Royle)

We shall continue to do all we can to obtain Mrs. Yang's release. As regards the status of our mission in Peking, our discussions with the Chinese Government are continuing. We have made it clear that there are no obstacles on our side to an exchange of ambassadors. It would not be helpful to our improving relations, or to Mrs. Yang's case, to introduce preconditions at this stage. We have left the Chinese Government in no doubt of the continuing public concern about Mrs. Yang and the three other British subjects who have been detained for so long in China.

Mr. Gorst

I thank my hon. Friend for the tenacity which he and the Foreign Office have shown over a period of more than a year on this subject. Will he now instruct our Chargê d'Affaires, who I understand has taken up his post today, to place this important case high on his list of priorities and to secure more information for my constituent about her sister?

Mr. Royle

This is certainly one of the subjects on which we hope to make progress if an agreement on an exchange of ambassadors is reached. In the meantime we are continuing our efforts to obtain Mrs. Yang's release from detention and certainly our Chargê d'Affaires on arrival in Peking will again raise the subject with the Chinese authorities.

Mr. Dalyell

As to the exchange of ambassadors, why do we have to pursue American policy on Taiwan, a policy which incidentally, among other thing, is against British national interest?

Mr. Royle

I did not know that we were pursuing American policy on Taiwan. Her Majesty's Government do not recognise the Nationalist authorities on Taiwan. We maintain a consulate in Tamsui, but that consulate has dealings only with the local provincial authorities.

Mr. Healey

Is not the only obstacle to the exchange of ambassadors, which I was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say was Her Majesty's Government's objective, the refusal to confirm the decision taken by Sir Winston Churchill at the conferences at Cairo and Potsdam that Taiwan was part of China? Given that the ruling that the status of Taiwan was undetermined was made 20 years ago, is it not time for Her Majesty's Government to recognise the fact and pursue Britain's interests in this matter?

Mr. Royle

These are among the many matters now under discussion with the Chinese Government. I think the right hon. Gentleman will understand that it would not be helpful to go into them in detail while these discussions with the Chinese Government are in progress.

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