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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Delivers a Keynote Speech at APPCG Webinar

On 23 June Ambassador Liu Xiaoming attended a webinar at the Chinese Embassy in the UK with All Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG), where he delivered a keynote speech entitled Stay Committed to Win-Win Cooperation. Richard Graham, Chair of the APPCG, Lord Clement-Jones, Lord Goddard, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Mark Logan and Christine Jardine, Deputy Chairs of the APPCG, Stephen Kinnock, Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Steve Baker, former Brexit minister, Lord Sassoon, President of the China-Britain Business Council, Lord Dobbs, a renowned writer, and more than 30 MPs, Lords and representatives from the Great Britain-China Centre participated in the online event.

Ambassador Liu said in his speech that the continued spread of Covid-19 has led to profound changes to the world. It has posed grave challenges to global public health, dealt a severe blow to the world economy, posed a grave test to global governance, and reminded the world that all mankind belongs to a community with a shared future.

“In face of the major challenges of Covid-19, do we remain open or hide behind closed doors? Do we embrace cooperation or descend to confrontation? Do we build bridges or erect walls? Do we pursue win-win results or play the zero-sum game? These questions test the wisdom, reason and sense of responsibility of every country in the world,” argued the Ambassador.

Ambassador Liu said, as the world is experiencing profound changes, so is China-UK relationship. However, China-UK ties remain unchanged in the following three aspects.

First, the global and strategic importance of this relationship remains unchanged. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the UK are both countries with global influence. Both have on their shoulders the important mission of safeguarding world peace and development. “China-UK joint response to Covid-19 adds new contents to our bilateral relationship. There is a great deal our two countries can do together to make new contribution to safeguarding and improving global public health.” said the Ambassador.

Second, the complementarity and win-win nature of China-UK relationship remains unchanged. The economies of the two countries are highly complementary; the interests are deeply intertwined; and the mutually-beneficial cooperation has been expanding. “The steady recovery of China’s economy will create more opportunities for China-UK business cooperation. It will also help the UK realize economic recovery and achieve greater development after Brexit,” Ambassador Liu added.

Third, the mutual appeal of the two cultures and the fact that there is so much China and the UK can learn from each other remain unchanged. China and the UK differ in history, culture, social system and development stage. Both have time-honored and splendid history and culture. Ambassador Liu was convinced that China and the UK “could become a shining example of open and inclusive exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations.”

In terms of how to achieve greater progress in China-UK relationship once the pandemic is under control, Ambassador Liu emphasized that three principles hold the key to the answer.

The first principle is equality and mutual respect. It is true that China and the UK have differences, but the two have always found more common interests than differences. China and the UK were not driven apart by differences, but have come closer because of common interests. At the moment, the most prominent challenge faced by the two countries is in relation to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. As is in all countries, safeguarding national security is the primary responsibility of the Central Government. Therefore, the National Security Legislation for Hong Kong is entirely reasonable and lawful. It is something that must be done. “This legislation targets only the few actions and activities that gravely jeopardize national security,” he said, adding that “It will not impact the high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong. It will strengthen people’s confidence in ‘One Country, Two Systems’. It will provide better safeguards for the lawful rights and freedom of the Hong Kong residents. It will ensure better protection of the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in the city. It is my hope that MPs and Members of the Lords will be able to appreciate the big picture and major trend, and view this legislation from an objective, fair and reasonable perspective.”

The second principle is to regard each other as opportunities and partners, rather than threats or rivals. China is committed to peaceful development and is ready to be a strategic partner of a “global Britain”. “It is my hope that the UK Government will, in light of the fundamental interests of the UK and the big picture of China-UK relationship, come to an independent judgment and decision, and continue to foster an open, fair, transparent and non-discriminatory environment here in this country for Chinese businesses, including Huawei,” said the Ambassador.

The third principle is to manage differences through equal-footed dialogues rather than “megaphone diplomacy”. China has realized the most rapid progress in history in terms of safeguarding human rights. China also has the confidence and capability to overcome Covid-19 and other difficulties, and achieve its goal of eliminating absolute poverty and completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects this year. China stands ready to engage all the relevant parties in constructive dialogues on the basis of equality and mutual respect, but strongly opposes smears and accusations based on arrogance and bias.

In closing, Ambassador Liu said, “It is my sincere hope that APPCG will continue to be a pioneer in enhancing understanding of China in the UK, a supporter for China-UK relations, a promoter of China-UK cooperation and a contributor to China-UK friendship. I am confident that, with the concerted efforts of both sides, China and the UK will emerge from the pandemic with stronger relationship, broader cooperation and deeper friendship between our peoples.”

After the speech, Ambassador Liu took questions from the participants on China’s economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese investment in the UK, climate change, the National Security Legislation for Hong Kong, “One Country, Two Systems”, Xinjiang issue, Huawei, religious freedom, cyber security and China-India relations.

MPs and members of the Lords attending the webinar thanked Ambassador Liu for his frank and lucid speech and answers to their questions. They agreed that the UK and China should enhance cooperation in economic and trade investment, environmental protection and climate change. The UK Parliament stands ready to maintain contacts and exchanges with the Chinese side, and make joint efforts to promote the continuous development of China-UK relationship.

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