HC Deb 18 February 1976 vol 905 cc1265-7
5. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his discussions with the Government of the People's Republic of China will include the possibility of developing a joint approach to counter Soviet threats to world peace in Angola and elsewhere.

Mr. James Callaghan

As I told the House on 28th January, I hope in Peking to have wide-ranging discussions of the international situation. As regards Angola, our normal criteria for recognition are now met. We have decided to recognise today the People's Republic of Angola and its Government in Luanda.

Mr. Miller

Will the right hon. Gentleman discuss with the Chinese their possible co-operation in containing further Soviet expansion in Southern Africa, recognising that that expansion is a threat to resources and communications, of which the Chinese have had great experience?

Mr. Callaghan

I cannot undertake to do that. It will be for the Chinese Government to decide what subjects they wish to raise with me. I do not think that I should wish to raise this matter with them.

Mr. James Lamond

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, if he discusses this matter with the Government of the Chinese People's Republic, that their attitude towards Angola, like the attitude of the Opposition, derives less from their concern about the people of Angola than from their hatred of the Soviet Union, and that therefore he should recognise that the Government of the People's Republic of China are acting as international opportunists?

Mr. Callaghan

I have advice from all quarters on these matters and I do not think that it is my responsibility today to enter into a discussion about the relationship between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. We prefer to be on good terms with both.

Mr. Maudling

As the right hon. Gentleman has confirmed the report which appeared a short while ago on the tape, may I ask two questions about Her Majesty's Government's recognition of the MPLA? First, while clearly there are arguments for doing so, can the right hon. Gentleman find any precedent for accepting that a Government are in control of a territory when that control rests upon the presence of a large foreign army? Secondly, what assurance did he receive from the MPLA before according recognition that it would respect the territorial integrity of the British colony of Rhodesia?

Mr. Callaghan

The right hon. Gentleman asks about circumstances in which recognition is conferred. This is a long-standing practice. It is to recognise de jure a Government, established by revolutionary action, when Her Majesty's Government considers that the new Government enjoys… and then the criteria are listed. Those criteria are quite clear. It is a matter of opinion, and in Her Majesty's Government's opinion there is little doubt, any more than there is in the minds of the rest of the members of the EEC, that the new Government …enjoys, with a reasonable prospect of permanence, the obedience of the mass of the population and the effective control of much the greater part of the territory of the State concerned. A distinction must be drawn between approval and recognition—there is a difference. It would be wrong for us to depart from our normal criteria in these matters.

As regards getting guarantees from the MPLA, we are not likely to get any guarantees from anyone until we recognise them as the Government, but if it seems appropriate to discuss this matter with the new Government I will do so.