Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech toasting Chinese Premier (Hua Guofeng)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: speaking text
Editorial comments: The text was released to the press, embargoed until 2100 and marked "Please check against delivery".
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 590
Themes: Defence (general), Foreign policy (Asia)

Premier Hua, Vice Premier Yu, Foreign Minister Huang, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am particularly happy to have the opportunity of welcoming you again to Downing Street this evening. One of the reasons for this is a personal one. I greatly enjoyed our earlier meeting in Peking. I have similarly enjoyed our conversations here so far.

I attach much importance to building further on the excellent personal relationship I believe we have already established.

Another reason, which carries particular weight, derives from your position as leader of one of the great countries of the world, and from our desire in Britain to work closely with you.

China has a vital role to play on the international stage, as a country of great size, immense population and rich material, human and cultural resources. [end p1]

You share with us the responsibilities that go with Permanent Membership of the UN Security Council. We are both nuclear weapons states with all the awesome responsibilities which that entails. Your Government have repeatedly made clear that you want peace and stability to enable your modernisation programme to be carried forward successfully and quickly.

We share that interest also.

A necessary condition for peace and stability between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries is the maintenance of a military balance.

We in Britain are committed to taking the necessary action to ensure that that balance is restored. At the same time, we shall continue to seek where we can areas of co-operation between Western and Eastern Europe, with the objective of building a better relationship. At our talks yesterday we were in agreement on many aspects of the international situation; we reached a closer understanding of each other's position on others. [end p2]

I am delighted that 1979 has already seen important landmarks in the development of Sino-British relations. In March, Sir Murray Maclehose paid the first official visit to the People's Republic of China by a Governor of Hong Kong; and in June HRH The Duke of Kent paid the first official visit by a member of the Royal Family. But, as I said at Heathrow on your arrival, your own visit, Premier Hua, has a unique significance as the first visit to Britain by a Premier of the People's Republic of China. Your visit is thus doubly important to us as a firm indication of your and your Government's determination to improve your relations with our country and to seek our co-operation in implementing your modernisation plans. [end p3]

Tomorrow you go to Derby, to see a little of the achievements of British industry and technology. I am confident that you will be impressed, and that you will come back with a strengthened conviction that Britain has a major contribution to make to China's plans.

I can assure you that both the British Government and industry are enthusiastic about the prospect of working together with you to the mutual benefit of both our economies and people.

I shall look forward to discussing with you your impressions on your return to London, as well as other aspects of our bilateral relationship.

In the meantime, I am happy to have this opportunity to welcome you, and the rest of your distinguished delegation, to Britain, and I hope that you will find your visit to this country enjoyable, rewarding and worthwhile. [end p4]

I should now like to propose a toast to the health of Hua Guofeng, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, to all the other distinguished Chinese guests present, and to the continuing improvement and expansion of Sino-British relations.