HC Deb 06 March 1972 vol 832 cc1012-3
11. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now seek to make an official visit to the People's Republic of China.

50. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, following President Nixon's visit to Red China, what plans he has to seek to make a similar visit.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

As I told the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) on 2nd August last, I should very much like to visit China at some time if that were convenient to the Chinese and to ourselves. But there are no plans at present for such a visit.— [Vol. 822, c. 1068–9.]

Mr. Dalyell

When can we expect an exchange of ambassadors?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The hon. Gentleman puts a rather leading question. I hope that it will be before not too long a period has elapsed.

Sir G. Nabarro

Whereas the visit of President Nixon was only partially successful and the communiqué contained a large number of platitudes, would not my right hon. Friend the next time he goes to the Far East—which I hope will be shortly, because he was dragged back precipitately on 17th February; I shall be willing to pair with him next time—pay a visit to the Chinese leaders since this will be of overwhelming importance to the whole of the free world?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I can foresee a number of occasions when I might wish to pair with my hon. Friend. I certainly would like to visit China, and it is in our national interest that contacts should be very close. My hon. Friend may be interested to hear that the Chinese Minister of Foreign Trade is coming to this country and, furthermore, we are holding a technological exhibition in Peking in early 1973. Contacts are being made.

Mr. Healey

May I assure the Foreign Secretary that we on this side of the House fervently share his hope that we shall soon have an exchange of full ambassadors with Peking? In view of the statement of President Nixon as to the American attitude towards Taiwan, is it necessary for the British Government to continue a legalistic quibble to the effect that the status of Taiwan is still undetermined?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I am not interested in legalistic quibbles. I am interested in having an ambassador in Peking as soon as we can.