China's Foreign Trade Minister, Mr. Li Chiang, heads a top-level Chinese trade mission which arrived?
China's Foreign Trade Minister, Mr. Li Chiang, heads a top-level Chinese trade mission which arrived in Britain on Monday (28 November) for talks with Government Ministers and industrialists. He is the first Chinese minister to visit Britain in nearly five years, and his trip comes at a time when China is reportedly seeking to modernise its agriculture, industry, science and technology, and defence. The Chinese have expressed interest in Britain's vertical take-off Harrier jet, and on Tuesday (29 November) members watched a demonstration of the jet's capabilities.
SYNOPSIS: The Harrier "Jump Jet" developed by British Aerospace is the world's first operational vertical and short take-off and landing jet-fighter.
Among Chinese officials who watched the jet being put through its paces was Mr. Li; the chief vice-chairman of China's State Planning Commission, Mr. Yuan Pao-hua; and China's Ambassador to London, Mr. Sung Chih-kuang. The demonstration was at the British Aerospace centre at Dunsfold, in Surrey. British officials have said that China had made no official request to buy any Harriers, which are already in service with British and United States forces.
However the Chinese delegates seemed very interested in finding out more about the Harrier when they met the test pilot. As well as being China's Foreign Trade Minister, Mr. Li is a trained electronics engineer, and he was expected to ask pertinent questions at later talks with British Aerospace officials.
Some aviation experts believe that the so called "jump-jet" with its unique capabilities would be a logical choice for the defence of China's long border with the Soviet Union. But Britain would first have to consult the United States and other allies before any decision on Harrier sales. And, although China has recently been stressing the need to modernise its armed forces it has indicated it was primarily interested in acquiring technology, rather than actual hardware.
Britain has already sold Rolls Royce Spey engines and Trident jet airliners to China, which also retains an option on three Concorde supersonic airliners. But the visiting Chinese haven't expressed any trade priorities. They have said they are interested in the whole sphere of modern technology, and during their seven-day visit they will see a wide range of British Industry.