Pacific (China)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 6 Mehefin 1995.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Denis MacShane Denis MacShane , Rotherham 12:00, 6 Mehefin 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of Chinese military ambitions in the Pacific region; and if he will make a statement. [25101]

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind The Secretary of State for Defence

China has long-standing territorial claims in the Asia Pacific region and significant military forces, which are being modernised. We hope that all territorial disputes in the region can be settled amicably, and without resort to force.

Photo of Denis MacShane Denis MacShane , Rotherham

Is the Secretary of State aware that China is rearming itself at a speed not witnessed since the German and Italian rearmaments of the 1930s? Is he further aware that, in the past two or three weeks, China has tested nuclear weapons in defiance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and tested intercontinental ballistic missiles which can be launched from lorries? Is he further aware that the Chinese navy is transforming itself from a coastal defence fleet into a blue water fleet and is actually involved in military engagements, many hundreds of miles from the China coast? That action has been taken by a non-democratic, totalitarian power which is seriously destabilising Asia. What are Britain's short, medium and long-term policies with regard to that new threat to the world?

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind The Secretary of State for Defence

The hon. Gentleman will forgive me if, in the time available, I am unable to give a comprehensive answer to what is a very reasonable question. He is certainly correct to emphasise that China is expanding its military potential very substantially. We have noted particularly the testing of the intercontinental ballistic missile which we understand could have a range in excess of 6,500 km and thus would be able to target western Europe in due course. The matter clearly justifies serious attention in the months ahead.