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Anglo-Chinese Trade

Volume 529: debated on Monday 5 July 1954

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5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress is being made in the negotiations for the restoration of normal trade with China.

Her Majesty's Government are not at present engaged in any negotiations about trade with China. The hon. Member no doubt has in mind the talks between the Sino-British Trade Committee, representing various prominent British manufacturing and trading organisations, and a party of Chinese trade experts. It is too early yet to assess what progress is being made in these talks. The Chinese delegation is at present visiting factories, and talks will be resumed on its return to London.

In view of the fact that there has been an armistice in Korea for two years, is it not high time that trade relations with China were normalised, or at least put on the same basis as with the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union? What steps are the Government taking towards this end?

I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that the Korean armistice was a step in the right direction. I think that the next step to take is to stop the fighting in Indo-China.

Is there not a Chinese delegation in this country at the present time—I think it arrived the other day—and would it not be desirable, apart from manufacturers here receiving its members, that they should be received by the President of the Board of Trade, or by an appropriate Government Department?

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

As trade with China is on a different basis from East-West trade generally, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the visit of the President of the Board of Trade to America was in connection with trade with China?

If it is a matter for the President of the Board of Trade, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman, on behalf of the Foreign Office, make it quite clear that the Foreign Office would raise no objection if the President wished to see the members of this delegation?

I will certainly draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion.

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now initiate discussions in the United Nations to modify the resolution of 18th May, 1951, regarding trade with China, so that strategic controls on exports to that country are brought into line with those on exports to Eastern Europe.

No, Sir. We must await the outcome of the Geneva Conference before we can consider whether any such discussions should be initiated.

Does that answer and that given to the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. William Warbey), mean that the Government insist on awaiting a political settlement in Korea before considering that reasonably normal trading relations between China and Britain are possible? If so, does it not give Syngman Rhee a veto?

I said that we should await the outcome of the Geneva Conference, which is dealing not only with Korea but with Indo-China.

But since the boycott was put on in 1951 because of aggression in Korea, and since fighting has stopped there, is there any good reason why relations with China should not be on the same basis as those with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe?