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United States Foreign Policy (Asia)

Volume 549: debated on Tuesday 4 September 2012

I regularly discuss US foreign policy priorities with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We welcome the rebalancing of US focus to the Asia-Pacific region, which is in line with our own renewed engagement in the region.

Given the United States’ refocus on Asia and repivoting there, will my right hon. Friend tell the House what steps the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is taking to further our diplomatic and commercial interests in the growth markets of China and south-east Asia?

We are doing a great deal to increase our emphasis on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states. This autumn, I shall reopen our embassy in Laos, which means we will be one of the few EU countries with representation in all 10 ASEAN states. We are doing a great deal to add to our commercial diplomacy in China, adding 60 new posts in the diplomatic service. This year, UK Trade & Investment expects to help more than 3,000 British firms to do business in China in design, construction, management of hospitals and energy generation, and there is a lot more to do.

What discussions has the Foreign Secretary had with our US representative about the sabre-rattling between China and Japan over disputed islands, and between Japan and Korea in relation to their long-term relationship? This is a matter of just a little concern at present, but we do not want it to escalate.

Of course, we discuss all global affairs with the United States, including those disputes. It is primarily for the countries concerned to resolve them, as is the case with the disputes in the South China sea. We want those disputes to be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law. That is what we call for when we meet all the countries concerned.