HC Deb 12 June 1972 vol 838 cc993-6
21. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent visit to China by the Undersecretary of State.

23. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his preparations for the Under-Secretary's visit to China.

Mr. Anthony Royle

As the House will be aware, my visit was the first to the People's Republic of China by a Minister from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I was received with great courtesy and hospitality. My talks with the Chinese Foreign Minister, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade lasted for more than 14 hours. They were conducted in a remarkably frank and friendly way and covered a wide range of subjects. These concerned both our bilateral relations and problems of mutual interest in the field of international affairs. The details must remain confidential. We reached agreement that a framework now exists for the gradual but steady development of exchanges in industrial, scientific and technological experience, trade and sport.

Sino-British relations are now better than they have been at any time for very many years. I look forward to their continued improvement.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

May I congratulate my hon. Friend on his successful visit and ask him what proposals there are for further visits, in particular for visits to this country by Chinese Ministers, which would be very welcome?

Mr. Royle

My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has accepted an invitation from the Chinese Foreign Minister, Chi Peng-Fei, to visit China in the autumn. The Foreign Minister expressed to me his pleasure at the prospect of receiving my right hon. Friend in Peking. The Foreign Minister, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Mr. Ch'iao Kuan-Hua, the senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, have all accepted invitations to visit this country. The dates remain to be determined. I have also discussed the possibility of a visit to China by a parliamentary delegation.

Mr. Dalyell

When discussing Vietnam in the Great Hall of the People did the Under-Secretary give his Chinese hosts the same spiel that he has given us? If so, what did they say? If not, what view did he express?

Mr. Royle

I did not discuss Vietnam in the Great Hall of the People. The hon. Gentleman may not have been aware that the invitation from the Chinese Government for me to visit China came after the statement that I made in the House of British Government policy over the recent events in Vietnam and after the statements made in the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State on the subject of Vietnam.

Mr. Cormack

In view of the obvious success of this visit, is there any prospect of an easing of the visa situation with regard to the close relatives of certain British subjects who are not allowed out of China?

Mr. Royle

I raised with the Chinese the question of three British subjects who are still detained in China and the two British residents in Shanghai who require exit visas. I am delighted to be able to tell the House that I was informed before I left Shanghai that exit visas have now been allowed to Ian Chang and the adopted daughter of Mr. Edmonds.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

May I say how glad we are that the Under-Secretary of State has been able to complete this important mission? Will his visit be followed by a visit of his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary at a fairly early date? The hon. Gentleman mentioned the improvement of communications with China. Will he tell us something about communications between China and Hong Kong, particularly telephonic communications, and between Hong Kong and the West?

Mr. Royle

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his remarks, which I greatly appreciate. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be visiting China at the end of October or early in November and the Chinese Government are very much looking forward to his visit. The subject of communications was discussed amongst others connected with Hong Kong. We made it plain that we wished to conclude an air services agreement with China, and we hope that negotiations will begin soon. Agreement on detailed arrangements will have to await the conclusion of an air services agreement. As a result of our discussions, I have the greatest confidence in the future of Hong Kong.

Mr. Blaker

Will my hon. Friend say something about the prospects for the sale to China of British aircraft, particularly Concorde?

Mr. Royle

The civil aviation authority of China already operates Viscounts and Tridents and more Tridents are on order. I described the range of aircraft that the British aircraft industry is now in a position to offer. This gives China an extensive choice from which to replace and add to her fleet. I can tell my hon. Friend that the Chinese expressed considerable and continued interest in Concorde.

Mr. Maclennan

Is there a prospect of an extension of consular relations to advance the objectives which were mutually agreed?

Mr. Royle

No; we have now closed the consulate in Shanghai and there is no question of reopening the consular establishment in that city. We think that the present balance of arrangements whereby we have an Ambassador in Peking and the Chinese Ambassador will be arriving early in July to take up his post in London is about right.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Further to my hon. Friend's answer to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack), he gave welcome news with regard to exit visas for people in Shanghai but did he have an equally encouraging response in the case of the people who are detained?

Mr. Royle

I mentioned them to the Chinese and they took note. I had no further news by the time I left China.