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China (Arms Sales)

Volume 982: debated on Monday 31 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his discussions in China concerning sales of military equipment in general, and the Harrier in particular.

I visited China for four days from Sunday 23 March at the invitation of the Chinese Defence Minister; I had talks in Peking on a wide range of matters of common concern with senior Chinese Ministers and their advisers, including a two-hour meeting with Premier Hua; and in Shanghai I represented Her Majesty's Government at the opening of the British aviation equipment exhibition, and had talks on defence sales with the Chinese Minister of the 3rd Machine Building (Aerospace) Ministry.My objectives in visiting China were to reaffirm the importance Her Majesty's Government attach to the United Kingdom's relations with China and to further these relations; to exchange views on world issues; and to do what I could to improve the prospects for civil and defence sales. I was received with very great courtesy and friendliness and my hosts clearly went to very great pains to make my visit a success. I also found a considerable degree of common understanding on world issues, and in particular on the need to maintain strong defences against any potential aggressor, and a common recognition that instability in one region can affect global stability. Both Governments condemn the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and see the Soviet occupation of that country as a continuing threat to world peace.On defence sales, including Harrier, and on the supply of equipment generally, I think that the Chinese will want to move

At 1 April 1976124,700119,800244,500
At 1 April 1977120,500115,400235,900
At 1 April 1978116,600110,900227,500
At 1 April 1979114,800109,900224,700
At 1 March 1980113,000106,100219,100
The numbers employed in the Royal ordnance factories on the same dates were as follows:

At 1 April 19765,30016,40021,700
At 1 April 19775,40017,40022,800
At 1 April 19785,70017,20022,900
At 1 April 19795,90017,10023,000
At 1 March 19805,90015,80021,700