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Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Webinar with the Chinese Business Community in the UK: Strengthen Determination and Shore up Confidence
Chinese Embassy in the UK, 22 July 2020
2020/07/23

Chairman Fang,

Representatives from the Chinese Business Community in the UK:

It is a real delight to join you on-line.

In the past months, the Chinese business community in the UK and CCCUK have taken vigorous actions in response to Covid-19, supporting the epidemic containment back in China, donating medical supplies to the UK, and working under the British Government guidelines to reopen and get your business up and running.

You have made hard efforts and achieved remarkable outcomes. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, I would like to pay my tribute to all of you! Your work has been outstanding!

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have had two telephone conversations, during which they reached important agreements on advancing China-UK relations and enhancing joint response to the epidemic. The relevant government departments of the two countries have been working hard to implement these agreements and carry out cooperation in various areas and at different levels.

There was a positive momentum in China-UK relationship that should be cherished so that further progress could be achieved. However, in recent weeks, this relationship has taken a sharp turn and run into difficulties and setbacks.

Many Chinese businesses in the UK are probably asking themselves these questions:

What is happening to China-UK relationship?

What shall we do?

Now let me give you my answer to these two questions.

The first question: what is happening to China-UK relationship?

Currently, China-UK relationship is faced with grave difficulties and suffering serious setbacks. The reason for this is that two things have gone seriously wrong on the UK side.

First, the UK has violated the basic norms governing international relations.

These basic norms include:

  • mutual respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity,
  • non-interference in each other's internal affairs,
  • equality and mutual benefit.

These are the fundamental principles for state-to-state relations that are enshrined in the UN Charter. They are the basic norms of international law and relations. They are also the basic guidelines that have been written into the Joint Communiqué of China and the UK on exchange of ambassadors and form the bedrock for China-UK relationship.

Seventy years ago, the UK was the first major Western country to recognize New China. Since then, despite winds and rains, the overall China-UK relationship has kept making progress.

In my more than ten years as Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I have witnessed ups and downs, and twists and turns in China-UK relationship. History and facts have proved time and again that when the above-mentioned basic principles were observed, China-UK relationship would make progress; otherwise, this relationship would suffer setbacks or even retrogression.

To our deepest regret, these important principles have been violated time and again in recent developments.

On Hong Kong:

Some British politicians have refused to wake up from their colonial dream and ignored the fact that China has long resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong.

This has led to blatant interference from the British government in Hong Kong affairs, which are internal affairs of China, including groundless accusations against the National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR, extension of arms embargo to Hong Kong, suspension of the extradition treaty with Hong Kong and change to the policy involving BNO passport holders and even offers of special visas to so-called "protestors" born after 1997.

By making one mistake after another on Hong Kong, the UK has brazenly contravened its international obligations and severely disrupted the stability and prosperity in Hong Kong.

On Xinjiang:

The UK has paid no respect for facts and confused right and wrong, recklessly flinging slanders at and discredit China, bilaterally and multilaterally. This has seriously misled the British public and poisoned China-UK relationship.

Second, the UK's perception of and strategic position on China are seriously wrong.

Some British politicians have continued to see the world in Cold-War mentality and dance to the tune of the United States. They see China as a challenge, a threat, and even a "hostile state". They clamoured for a "reckoning" with China, or even a "new cold war" against China.

In particular, the UK Government recently changed its decision on Huawei, excluding Huawei from its 5G networks. This is a wrong decision. The issue of Huawei is not just about how the UK sees and deals with a Chinese company. It is about how the UK sees and deals with China. Does it see China as

  • an opportunity or a threat?
  • a partner or a rival?
  • a friendly country, or a "hostile" or "potentially hostile" state?

On these questions of principles, the UK Government's judgment and decision have been obviously wrong.

We feel deep regret over the current difficulties and setbacks in China-UK relationship. However, the UK side should take full responsibility for the current situation.

China has never interfered in the internal affairs of the UK. It has never seen the UK as a "threat" or a "hostile state". China hopes to become a friend and partner of the UK. The feasibility of this hope is now up to not only China but also the UK.

China always believes that a stable and sound China-UK relationship not only serves the interests of the people of both countries but also contributes to world peace and prosperity. This important relationship should not be "kidnapped" by anti-China forces in and outside the UK.

It is our hope that the UK would return to independent, reasonable and practical policies towards China, and stop going down the wrong path. Otherwise, it stands to lose while harming others.

Now let me turn to the second question: How shall Chinese businesses in the UK respond?

In face of the complex situation in China-UK relationship, the Chinese business community in the UK should strengthen determination, shore up confidence, take effective measures and achieve success.

In particular, I hope you will strengthen confidence in the following three aspects:

First, strengthen confidence in your own country.

Yesterday, President Xi Jinping chaired a symposium with entrepreneurs and delivered an important speech. He said that China's economy has reported stable performance and showed signs of improvement, and China is leading the world in both epidemic containment and economic recovery.

He emphasized that entrepreneurs, while strengthening their domestic foothold, should have a global vision. This means:

  • better judgment of the trend, demand and characteristics of the global market,
  • better understanding of international rules,
  • broader and more effective global reach,
  • and greater ability to guard against risks in the global market.

These could enable businesses to achieve better development in China's higher-level of opening up, and make their domestic and global operations complement and reinforce each other.

This speech provides an important guidance for all Chinese businesses here in the UK.

The resilience and potential of China's economy are the source of driving forces and confidence for Chinese companies to continue doing business in the UK and achieve success. A strong China and 1.4 billion Chinese people are always your staunched support.

Right now, China is carefully evaluating the repercussions of the UK's words and actions. We will take all necessary means and measures to safeguard the safety as well as the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese businesses and institutions in the UK.

Second, I hope you will strengthen confidence in yourselves.

Chinese businesses in the UK are among the leading companies in their respective industries. You are highly competitiveness and rich in experience in the global market, and you have withstood severe tests.

Many of you have been in the UK for many years, during which you created huge job opportunities and tax revenue for the local communities, and made positive contribution to the development of the relevant industries here in this country. Such contribution will never be written off by the discrediting words or suppression of some ill-intentioned British politicians and media.

Take Huawei for an example. As I said, the world is big enough for Huawei to continue to grow. We Chinese people often say, when it turns dark in the West, embrace dawn in the East. There is a similar saying in the West, which goes, when one door shuts, another opens.

Huawei has business operations in 170 countries. If the UK closes its door, there are still 169 doors open. Neither the suppression of the US nor the ban of the UK will stop progress of Huawei. They will only spur Huawei on to meet the challenges head on and grow even stronger. The same is true for other Chinese businesses.

Third, I hope you will strengthen confidence in the friendship between the Chinese and British people and the long-term prospects of China-UK business cooperation.

After Brexit and Covid-19, there is no way to bypass or exclude China if the UK wants to build a "global Britain". "Decoupling" from China means decoupling from opportunities, decoupling from growth and decoupling from the future.

Even at the current moment when China-UK relationship is facing difficulties, the UK Government has to acknowledge that it must maintain a constructive relationship with China. The mainstream of the British society, especially the business community, still hopes to deepen cooperation with China.

China and the UK have highly complementary economies, deeply integrated interests and extensive cooperation. There are promising prospects for further economic cooperation between the two countries.

The people of the two countries have profound friendship. Recently the Chinese Embassy and myself have been receiving a large number of letters from British people every day, who expressed their disagreement with anti-China clamour and their support for China-UK relationship. This friendship forms the foundation of and gives strength to China-UK relationship.

Therefore, it is my hope that with your continued presence, you will go on to tell the story of China and the story of China-UK win-win cooperation, so as to gain more understanding and support for your operations here in the UK. It is also important to contribute, communicate and get along with your partners, your clients and your local communities here in this country, and lay the bricks for the foundation of China-UK relationship in the future.

President Xi Jinping said, an outstanding entrepreneur has a strong sense of mission and responsibility; an outstanding entrepreneur would take the initiative to take up responsibilities for the country and help address the concerns of the country.

Chinese businesses in the UK have always played the role of a stabilizer, a propeller and a loudspeaker for better China-UK relationship. The more complex the situation is and the more severe the challenge is, the more important that we strengthen confidence, keep the big picture in mind, seize the opportunities and address the risks and challenges.

Whatever the change, the Chinese Embassy in the UK will provide, as always, support and services for Chinese businesses here in this country. We will address your difficulties and provide necessary safeguards!

Thank you!

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