HC Deb 28 October 1980 vol 991 cc192-3
11. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about co-operation with the Chinese Government in preventing the spread of Soviet imperialism.

Mr. Pym

There is a considerable degree of understanding between Britain and China on world issues, particularly on the need to maintain strong defences against any potential aggressor. We attach importance to the continuing development of our relations with China in many fields, especially trade. The development of our relationship is not directed against any third country.

Mr. Adley

In the light of events in Afghanistan, will my right hon. Friend do what he can to help those countries that have the misfortune to be neighbours of the Soviet Union to defend themselves? Will he confirm that in matters such as defence policy and arms sales we now regard the Government of China as our allies?

Mr. Pym

We are developing a trade relationship with China, and that includes certain arms sales, principally in the direction of modernising the equipment in the possession of China. That is the basis on which we are talking to them all the time. Some contracts have already been signed.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

Will my right hon. Friend reconsider this matter, bearing in mind that we are prepared to sell arms to China and that the American Administration is working very closely with that country on defence matters? Why should not we have, for example, a training mission there to help the Chinese to build up their tank divisions?

Mr. Pym

It is possible that that might develop in due course, but we are only at the beginning of a developing relationship with China. That is something that we can consider.