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China: Arms Exports

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 20 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they are making to the Government of China in support of moves towards a United-Nations-sponsored arms trade treaty. [HL1987]

The Government are committed to securing a legally binding treaty to regulate the international trade in arms. The resolution to set up a UN process to take forward work towards an arms trade treaty was adopted by the General Assembly on 6 December 2006 by a strong majority. China abstained from this vote. The UN Secretary-General has now called for views on the scope, feasibility and draft parameters of a treaty. With the aim of eventually securing agreement to a treaty with universal support, we are working with our international partners to encourage all countries, including China, to engage positively in this process.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the role played by arms deals in securing access by China to present and future oil supplies and other minerals in Africa. [HL1988]

It is not possible to make such an assessment as the People's Republic of China does not publish details of its arms exports, and last submitted data to the UN Register on Conventional Arms covering its exports in 1996. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, Ministers and officials hold regular discussions with the Chinese Government on a wide range of international issues, including Africa. Within this dialogue we encourage China to increase the transparency of its arms exports.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they are making to the Government of China concerning the declaration of arms exports in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. [HL1989]

The UN Register of Conventional Arms is a voluntary reporting mechanism to promote transparency in the export and import of conventional arms. Details of participation in the register are available on the UN website at: http://disarmament.un.org/cab/register.html. We would encourage all countries to participate in reporting to the register. The People's Republic of China does not publish details of its arms exports and last submitted data to the UN register on its exports in 1996. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, Ministers and officials hold regular discussions with the Chinese Government on a wide range of international issues, including arms exports. Within this dialogue we encourage China to increase the transparency of its arms exports and we work with China as it seeks to improve its export controls.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they are making to the Government of China about arms transfers to conflict zones in Africa, support for Governments such as Zimbabwe and Sudan and support for United Nations resolutions on Darfur. [HL1995]

We welcome commitments made by China in its White Paper on Africa, published in January last year, and at the China-Africa summit in November 2006, to enhance “co-operation with other countries and international organisations” in support of the millennium development goals in Africa. We are increasing our dialogue and seeking to enhance practical co-operation with China on African issues both bilaterally and multilaterally. We look to work together increasingly in ways that reinforce Africa's own development agenda of improved peace and security, democracy, good governance, human rights and sound economic management.

Within these dialogues, we encourage China to increase the transparency of its arms exports and we work with China as it seeks to improve its export controls. Also, the Government are committed to securing a legally binding treaty to end irresponsible arms trading. We are encouraging China to engage positively in the UN process that will take this initiative forward.

We also work closely with China, as we do with other key partners within the UN, on issues relating to Zimbabwe and Sudan. We encourage China to use its considerable influence with the Governments of Zimbabwe and Sudan, and to take a more proactive role in support of UN and international action in these areas.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they are making to the Government of China about its transfer and export of arms and the comparison with controls and standards established by the European Union and other regional agreements; and what response they have received. [HL1996]

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, Ministers and officials hold regular discussions with the Chinese Government on a wide range of international issues, including arms exports. Within this dialogue we encourage China to increase the transparency of its arms exports and we work with China as it seeks to improve its export controls. The UK is leading calls for an international arms trade treaty, with the aim of ending irresponsible arms trading that fuels internal conflict, external aggression or regional instability and human rights abuses. We are encouraging China to engage positively in the UN process that will take this initiative forward.