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Shipping Safety (Horn of Africa)

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

7. If he will hold discussions with the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the safety of shipping in the waters off the horn of Africa. (246446)

We continue to discuss the issue of shipping safety off the horn of Africa within the international community. UK officials and officials from the People’s Republic of China will be in attendance at the contact group, which is due to meet this week to discuss a coherent international response to this difficult problem. The People’s Republic of China has sent three vessels to the gulf of Aden and international forces are liaising with them to ensure that their activities are co-ordinated. We welcome China’s contribution.

Following on from the Minister’s welcome, does he feel that this is an opportunity to work more closely and co-operatively with the People’s Republic of China on defence matters in the African continent and the middle east as a whole?

We try to have appropriate contacts with the Chinese military, on a military-to-military basis. The Chinese military’s potential is considerable because of their size; if they can be made to be a contributor to international efforts, as they already are in so many areas, that is to be welcomed. It is a positive move, and we do everything that we can to encourage it.