China's army chief shown latest British weaponry
Tuesday 25 March 1997
A European Union embargo on sales of arms to China has been in place since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. But speculation is rising that the measure might be coming to an end. The Portuguese Defence Minister, Antonio Vitorino, said yesterday that the EU ban may be lifted soon, according to the Portuguese national news agency Lusa. "It is natural that the issue [of arms sales] will have to be re-examined" since relations between China and the EU were being normalised, he said in Peking.
General Fu Quanyou, 66, China's Chief of General Staff, who heads the People's Liberation Army, also saw his opposite number, Field Marshal Sir Peter Inge, the Chief of Defence Staff; Jeremy Hanley, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office; and Michael Portillo, the Secretary of State for Defence.
General Fu's visit to Britain comes at the end of a European tour which has taken him to France, Belgium and Italy. He is the most senior defence representative from China to pay a full-scale visit to Britain since 1989. Chi Haotian, the Defence Minister, stopped over briefly last December, en route to Washington.
The Ministry of Defence also said that General Fu's visit was to reciprocate the hospitality extended to Field Marshal Inge when he visited China last November. In spite of its historic importance, the visit has been kept very low key.
Field Marshal Inge will retire in two weeks and sources said he was anxious that General Fu should visit before then. China is in the process of reducing its multi-million armed forces, and he was also anxious that General Fu should see a high-technology, well-trained, professional force, and to contrast this with the staged demonstrations which specially trained Chinese "court divisions" carry out for visitors.
Sources admitted that the Chinese might be interested in Harrier jump jets although the EU embargo meant that the opportunities for using such visits as arms-sales pitches were limited. Detailed arrangements for the handover of Hong Kong on 1 July were also discussed.
Today, General Fu heads for RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, to see demonstrations by the latest Harrier jump jets, and to the Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood, north-west London. Tomorrow he will visit Windsor Castle, the Defence Evaluation and Research Establishment experimental airfield at Boscombe Down, Hampshire, and the Royal School of Artillery at Larkhill, Wiltshire, where he will see Britain's latest quick-firing gun, the AS 90. He will also visit the naval base at Portsmouth.
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
London property boom built on dirty money
Becky Watts: Stepbrother and his girlfriend named locally as two arrested on suspicion of murder
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...
£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...
£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...