On June 13, 2019, H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming gave an exclusive live interview to BBC World News hosted by Lucy Hockings, in which he talked about China's position on issues relating to Hong Kong. The transcript is as follows:
Hockings: Let’s talk about some of those and what the view from Beijing is with the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, who is with me now. Thank you for joining us.
We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets of Hong Kong, professionals, lawyers as well, all objecting to this bill. Why does China want it?
Ambassador: Not all. I think 800,000 people signed up to support the Hong Kong government’s move to amend these ordinances.
Hockings: Does China want this bill?
Ambassador: Of course, we support this, because this effort by the Hong Kong government will address the discrepancies of the existing system so that Hong Kong will not continue to be a safe haven for fugitive criminals. So this will make Hong Kong a better place. Why should we not support it?
Hockings: The people on the streets are not objecting to that. But can you address these concerns that this is going to put people at risk to extradition to China for political crimes that no one is going to be safe, activists, human rights lawyers, journalists, and social workers? Is there commitment from Beijing this will not happen?
Ambassador: This is totally wrong! In fact, there are 37 crimes listed in the ordinance and none of them has to do with any freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of publication, and there is special mention that no offence will be related to political nature. And it has to be crimes in the laws of both places -- both Hong Kong and the other jurisdiction. The important thing one has to realize is it’s not about extradition to China. It’s about special arrangements with all judicial parties of those who do not have a mutual assistance agreement…
Hockings: But you can assure us that this bill will not be used as a tool against political opponents?
Ambassador: Not at all. It’s not the purpose of this bill. I think this has been distorted. I think there is someone with ulterior motives to make it…
Hockings: Who has ulterior motives?
Ambassador: Those forces who are not happy with stability and prosperity in Hong Kong.
Hockings: What forces?
Ambassador: Hostile forces that do not want to see Hong Kong…
Hockings: Are you talking about foreign powers, or forces inside Hong Kong?
Ambassador: You know, you heard some foreign powers express support for the demonstrators, express so-called concerns about these amendments. You know, people have a reason to be concerned about the motives behind it.
Hockings: One of the reasons that people are concerned, and foreign countries are concerned, is because China has a deeply flawed judicial system. There are allegations of torture, forced confessions, arbitrary detentions. There is the concern that when someone is extradited to mainland China, they will not get a fair trial.
Ambassador: No. I totally reject these allegations. China is a country ruled by law. The legal system is improving. The reform is going on.
Hockings: But Ambassador, there is almost a 100% conviction rate in China.
Ambassador: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think this is a correct description of the law system in China. I think you really have to look at how China is changing with each passing day. Especially, China has made great progress in terms of protection of human rights, in terms of building a sound legal system. I think that one of the forces behind this, you know, stirred up the trouble, not only try to demonize HK government but also try to demonize the judicial system in China. So that is the ulterior motive I am talking about.
Hockings: So people in China get a fair trial.
Ambassador: Yes, of course. Definitely.
Hockings: Many people would dispute that, the world over. We’ve just even seen the judge in New Zealand not wanting to send someone back to China. But if we can move on from that, could you also reassure people perhaps about the commitment to the One Country Two Systems, because so many of those protesters up there say that they are seeing the system eroded? Is that something that China is still committed to?
Ambassador: We are very committed to One Country Two Systems. The One Country Two Systems has been very successful. That’s why you can have prosperity and stability in Hong Kong in the past 20 years. If it were not for this policy, you would not have this demonstration, I would say. So I am calling for a civilized discussion on this amendment, or a civilized debate. Give the legislative council the time to debate. So I don’t think this violence, the riots in Hong Kong in the streets, are in the interest of building a civilized society in Hong Kong.
Hockings: Many leaders of business are also concerned this is going to undermine investors’ confidence in Hong Kong, that multinationals will be worried about working there.
Ambassador: I think it’s just the opposite. If Hong Kong continues to be a haven for criminals, you think that was safe? And that will ensure prosperity? You know I heard that some foreign…
Hockings: The genuine worry is that if someone does something that Chinese government doesn’t like in Hong Kong, they may find themselves in a court and an unfair system in mainland China.
Ambassador: That’s a complete distortion of the picture. Let me give you a figure. In the past 20 years, there are only 100 criminals being surrendered by Hong Kong government. That means five cases a year. And I will also give you another example. Since 2006, 248 criminals have been handed over from mainland to Hong Kong. Yet, none has been handed over to mainland. Do you think this relationship could be sustainable? You know, we made requests, but because of this arrangement, this discrepancy, the gap, no surrender of any criminals, no fugitive criminals handed over to mainland.
Hockings: There is unprecedented pressure on Carrie Lam right now from the people on the streets and from petitions. Will this bill pass?
Ambassador: I am sure the bill will pass.
Hockings: ...despite the hundreds of thousands of people, the number of people on the street?
Ambassador: I already gave you the figure, 800,000 people signed up to support the amendment.
Hockings: The protestors said about a million people are out on the street.
Ambassador: No, no. According to police account, it’s 200,000 people. And, in the past four months or so, Hong Kong government invited opinions. And they received 4,500 written replies: 3,000 supporting the amendment and only 1,500 …
Hockings: I think we will have to agree that some of the figures are in dispute. Well, you see some of the pictures of people on the streets. There are an incredible amount of people, from right across the society…
Ambassador: The problem of your media is you only focus on the people in the street. You forget the silent majority.
Hockings: That is why you are with us to tell us about that side.
Ambassador: Yes, that’s one of my purposes to share with you the other side of the story.
Hockings: Can I show you, I have been having a look at Xinhua today, the state News Agency in China. There is absolutely no mention of what is happening in Hong Kong on state media in China. Why are you not reporting this in China?
Ambassador: I just did an interview, before I came here, last night on (BBC) Newsnight. The whole interview was published on the website in China. It was broadcasted broadly.
Hockings: But can I draw your attention to the screen here. This is Xinhua right now. There is no mention of Hong Kong on the front page of the website.
Ambassador: I would not make comment about news agency’s policies. But I would say….
Hockings: What are people in China being told about what is happening in Hong Kong?
Ambassador: What are Chinese people told?
Hockings: On mainland China.
Ambassador: This is a good move, a good action by the Hong Kong government to turn Hong Kong into a “heaven for justice” instead of “haven for fugitives”. It will ensure the prosperity of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong government has the full and resolute support of the Central Government.
Hockings: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, it was good to have you with us. Thank you very much for joining us here on BBC World News.
Ambassador: Thank you.