HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc206-8
Q1. Mr. Dykes

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his proposed New Year visit to the People's Republic of China.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I have accepted an invitation from the Government of the People's Republic of China to pay an official visit to China from 4th to 12th January. I look forward to having discussions with Prime Minister Chou En-lai on a wide range of subjects of common concern.

Mr. Dykes

Does my right hon. Friend agree that his visit will coincide with an emergent era of very cordial relations between the two countries, that private transactions are always concluded on fair terms to both sides, and that the opportunities for British businessmen in China—which is the largest market in the world—are now literally monumental?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I am glad to say that we have very good, friendly relations with The People's Republic of China. As the House knows, we now have full diplomatic relations, and trade with China is running at record levels. For the first 10 months of this year, our exports were worth £64 million compared with £20 million during the same period last year, and imports were worth £38 million compared with £28 million last year. I think that is encouraging.

Mr. Stonehouse

What steps will the Prime Minister be taking during his visit to promote exports of British aircraft and British computers, in particular? Also, will he endeavour to ensure that such exports are not frustrated by unnecessary COCOM rules?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that the items which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned will form part of the discussions that I shall have with Prime Minister Chou En-Lai about trade. The Chinese have already contracted to buy 20 Tridents and we are naturally hopeful that they may decide to buy more. I think that many in this House know of Chinese interest in other aircraft as well. When we take decisions which are affected by COCOM, we take into account strategic and military matters, as well as discussing them with our allies.

Dame Joan Vickers

Will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity of thanking the Prime Minister and the Institute of Foreign Affairs for the hospitality generously given to the recent delegation to China? Also, will he arrange for a reciprocal deputation to come to this country in the near future?

The Prime Minister

Some of the Members of this House who made that journey have discussed it with me, and I shall certainly express their thanks to Mr. Chou En-Lai and the Foreign Minister. I am not certain that it is my responsibility to invite a reciprocal delegation of parliamentarians, but I shall certainly examine the matter.

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