HC Deb 13 July 1977 vol 935 cc403-5
2. Mr. MacFarquhar

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next proposes to meet the Chinese Foreign Minister.

The Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Evan Luard)

The Chinese Foreign Minister has been invited to visit the United Kingdom. No date has yet been fixed.

Mr. MacFarquhar

When my hon. Friend sees the Chinese Foreign Minister, will he express his satisfaction that this country has been able to help the Chinese People's Republic during the last five years by training about 400 students in various subjects? Will he also express his keen disappointment at the fact that it is not yet possible for senior British sinologists to spend prolonged periods in China and that they are not allowed access to Chinese libraries while they are there?

Mrs. Dunwoody

Particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. MacFarquhar).

Mr. Luard

I think that my hon. Friend has a vested interest in this subject. I hope that I shall have a chance to speak to the Chinese Foreign Minister on this and other subjects. My hon. Friend is correct in saying that in the last five years 391 Chinese student-years have been spent in this country and 58 British student-years have been spent in China. I agree that there is equal value in exchanges in both directions. I agree with my hon. Friend that we should like to see more British people studying in China. We believe that China has a great deal to offer that is of value to foreign scholars and we shall continue to pursue the subject.

Mr. Forman

When the Chinese Foreign Minister comes here, as well as discussing cultural links between this country and the Chinese People's Republic, will the Minister and his colleagues also be discussing ways of increasing our trade with China, particularly our technical co-operation in the sphere of offshore oil and gas development?

Mr. Luard

We are certainly concerned about improving our trade with China. For the first time in many years we had a deficit in our trade with China over the past year, and we want to remedy that. I agree that the area that the hon. Gentleman mentioned would be useful for increasing our exports to China.

Mr. Hooley

If my hon. Friend meets the Chinese Foreign Minister, will he discuss with him the anachronistic situation of Hong Kong and the possibility of resolving that absurd situation in a civilised way over the next two or three years?

Mr. Luard

The Chinese Government are very well aware of our views about the position of Hong Kong. They have indicated no anxiety radically to change the existing situation in the immediate future, but we shall continue to keep these questions in mind.