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Volume 561: debated on Monday 15 April 2013

13. What assessment he has made of China’s planned expansion of its aircraft carrier capacity. (150740)

China’s aircraft carrier capability remains at an early stage of development and the building of new indigenous vessels will take it some time. The Government closely watch developments in the Asia-Pacific region as they may affect our interests and our allies.

What discussions has the Minister had with our allies in that region and elsewhere about the possible implications for the stability of the Asia-Pacific region?

We have regular discussions with allies across the region, including major talks such as AUKMIN, where the Foreign and Defence Secretaries visited their counterparts in Australia in January and where a variety of strategic issues were discussed. I went to New Zealand and Tonga at the end of last year to promote defence co-operation. I passed on my thanks for their troop contributions to Afghanistan and presented some medals to the Tongans who defend Camp Bastion.