HC Deb 18 October 1982 vol 29 cc5-6W
Mr. Parry

asked the Prime Minister (1) if the future of Hong Kong was discussed at her official meeting in Peking; and if she will make a statement;

(2) if she will make a statement on her recent official visit to China;

(3) what matters were discussed during her recent visit to Hong Kong;

(4) if she will make a statement on her recent visit to Japan;

(5) if she will make a statement on her recent visit to Hong Kong.

29. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Prime Minister whether she will make a statement on her summer visit to China and Hong Kong.

Dr. Edmund Marshall

asked the Prime Minister whether she will make a statement on her recent talks in China and Hong Kong about the future of the colony.

The Prime Minister:

I visited the Far East from 17–29 September. My visits to Japan and China were at the invitation of the Governments of those countries.

I visited Japan from 17–22 September. I had previously attended the economic summit in Tokyo in 1979 but this was the first bilateral visit by a British Prime Minister since 1972.

I met leaders of the Japanese business community, and saw the advanced robotics production of a Japanese company which has a collaboration agreement with a United Kingdom firm. I visited a United Kingdom-built nuclear power station which is still supplied with fuel and other materials by the United Kingdom.

I had a series of talks with Mr. Suzuki and his Government, in which we discussed political, economic and commercial matters. We agreed that it would be desirable to expand political co-operation between the United Kingdom and Japan; to encourage collaboration in technology; and to resolve the existing problems in our bilateral trade relations. I emphasised the need for greater Japanese investment in the markets where they had important trading relationships and the need for increased Japanese imports of our goods, especially capital goods.

I visited Peking, Shanghai and Canton (Guangzhou) during my visits to China from 22–26 September. In Peking I had two sessions of talks with the Chinese Premier, Mr. Zhao Ziyang, and one session with Mr. Deng Xiaoping. I also called on Madam Deng Yingchao (Madame Chou Enlai).

The visit achieved the objectives for the visit that I indicated in my answer of 13 July. Our discussions confirmed that we continue to share the same fundamental outlook on a range of important international questions including the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia. We considered ways of promoting trade between Britain and China and of strengthening our scientific, technical and educational links and noted that there was agreement to exchange consulates in Shanghai and a British city.

I also discussed with Premier Zhao and Chairman Deng the question of Hong Kong's future. After these discussions the following statement was issued: 'Today the leaders of both countries held far-reaching talks in a friendly atmosphere on the future of Hong Kong. Both leaders made clear their respective positions on this subject. They agreed to enter talks through diplomatic channels following the visit with the common aim of maintaining the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong'.

The purpose of my visit to Hong Kong from 26 to 28 September was to demonstrate Britain's commitment to the people .of Hong Kong, and to hear their views on the future. My programme enabled me to meet a very wide cross-section of people. In the main those whom I saw, in and outside government, wished to know how my visit to China and my discussions there on the future of Hong Kong had gone. I was able to assure them of the continuing strength of Her Majesty's Government's commitment to Hong Kong, and that the views and wishes of the people would be fully taken into account in the discussions with the Chinese Government.

My visits to the Castle Peak power station, which I opened, and to the mass transit railway, the port container terminal, and to a major housing estate, gave me a very good idea of how Hong Kong continues to thrive and develop. I also had the pleasure of meeting some of our armed forces and their families, as well as Hong Kong seamen who served in the South Atlantic conflict.

Mr. Parry

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on her meeting in London with the Governor and the delegation of unofficial members of the Executive and Legislative Council concerning the future of Hong Kong.

The Prime Minister:

I met the Governor of Hong Kong and five members of the Executive and Legislative Councils of Hong Kong on 8 September 1982. I wanted to hear at first hand their views on the climate of opinion in Hong Kong, and on the wishes of the people of Hong Kong on the future of the Territory, before my visit to China and Hong Kong at the end of September. I assured the unofficial members that in my discussions I would fully represent the views and interests of the people of Hong Kong.