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Home > News in Pictures
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Holds On-line Press Conference on China–UK Relations
2020/08/01

On 30 July 2020, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming held an on-line press conference on China-UK relationship at the Chinese Embassy. Around 30 journalists from 27 media agencies joined the conference, including the BBC, Sky News, ITV, Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Times Radio, The Guardian, Reuters, Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, CCTV, CGTN, China News Service, China Daily, Science and Technology Daily, Global Times, Guancha.cn, AP, Bloomberg, NBC, Russia Today, Quartz, Phoenix Infonews, European Times, The Scotsman, and The Manchester Evening News. Guests from UK's political and business sectors also attended the conference, including Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Deputy-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China (APPCG), Mark Logan, Vice Chair of APPCG, Lord Davidson, Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, Lord Sassoon, President of China-Britain Business Council, Lord Palumbo of Walbrook Club, St. John Moore, Chairman of British Chamber of Commerce in China, Meia Nouwens, Research Fellow for Chinese Defense Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and Veerle Nouwens, Research Fellow at the International Security Studies Department of the Royal United Services Institute on geopolitical relations in the Asia-Pacific region and China. Foreign diplomats in the UK from South Korea, Laos, the EU, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Argentina, Myanmar, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia, and So Yuen Ling, Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office London, also joined the event. The press conference was broadcast live via Ambassador Liu's Twitter account. CGTN, Reuters and AP also broadcast the conference live. The event was also covered by the BBC and Sky News in their programs and on their websites.

The following is the transcript of the press conference.

Ambassador Liu: Good morning! Welcome to today's press conference.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the China-UK "Golden Era". Since early this year, 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 Covid-19. The departments of the two governments have been working hard to implement these agreements and carry out cooperation in various areas.

This was a positive momentum in China-UK relationship that should be cherished so that further progress could be achieved. To our regret however, this relationship has recently run into a series of difficulties and faced a grave situation.

People are asking: What is happening to China-UK relationship? The British media are also asking: What has caused the current difficulties in China-UK relationship? Has China changed or has the UK changed?

Today, I am going to give you my answer to these questions. My answer is loud and clear: China has not changed. It is the UK that has changed. The UK side should take full responsibility for the current difficulties in China-UK relationship.

First, China's determination to follow the basic norms governing international relations has not changed.

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 that are enshrined in the UN Charter. They are the basic norms of the international law and state-to-state 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 hence form the bedrock for China-UK relationship.

China has never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries, including the UK, and we ask the same from other countries.

Recently, however, the above-mentioned important principles have been violated time and again.

On Hong Kong:

There has been blatant interference from the UK in Hong Kong affairs, which are internal affairs of China, including

  • groundless accusations against the National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR,
  • change to the policy involving BNO passport holders,
  • and suspension of the extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

These moves have severely disrupted the stability and prosperity in Hong Kong.

On Xinjiang:

  • The UK disregarded the facts,
  • confused right and wrong,
  • flung slanders recklessly at China's Xinjiang-related policies
  • and interfered in China's internal affairs by raising the so-called "human rights issue" in Xinjiang, bilaterally and multilaterally.

These actions have seriously poisoned atmosphere of China-UK relationship.

Second, China's commitment to the path of peaceful development has not changed.

Pursuing peaceful development is the unwavering strategic choice and solemn pledge of China. China has never invaded other countries or sought expansion. China has never and will not export its system or model. China seeks development because we want better life for our people. We do not want to threaten, challenge or replace anyone.

History has proved and will continue to prove that China is always a defender of world peace, a contributor to global development and an upholder of international order. A stronger China will make the world a more peaceful, stable and prosperous place.

However, some British politicians cling to the "Cold War" mentality and echo the remarks of anti-China forces in and outside the UK. They

  • play up the so-called "China threat",
  • see China as a "hostile state",
  • threaten a "complete decoupling" from China,
  • and even clamour for a "new Cold War" against China.

Third, China's resolve to fulfill its international obligations has not changed.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. China was the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter. It is now a member of more than 100 inter-governmental international organisations and has signed over 500 multilateral treaties.

  • It has faithfully fulfilled its international responsibilities and obligations.
  • It has never withdrawn from international organisations or treaties.
  • Nor does it believe in "us first" at the expense of others.

It is completely wrong to see the National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR as a violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration or a failure to honour international obligations.

The core content of the Joint Declaration is about China's resumption of exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR fully embodies the comprehensive jurisdiction of the Central Government of China over Hong Kong.

The policies regarding Hong Kong laid out in the Joint Declaration were proposed by China on our own initiative. They are not China's commitments to the UK or international obligations. The label of "failure to fulfill international obligations" should not be stuck on China.

It is the UK side that has failed to fulfill its international obligations and went against its own pledges by changing the policy on BNO passport holders and suspending the extradition treaty with Hong Kong to create public confusion in Hong Kong, disrupt the implementation of the National Security Law and interfere in China's internal affairs.

Fourth, China's willingness to develop partnership with the UK has not changed.

During President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK in 2015, China and the UK issued a joint declaration on building a global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century.

China has always seen the UK as a partner and it has been committed to developing a sound and stable relationship with the UK. As State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said two days ago in his telephone conversation with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, for the UK, China is an opportunity rather than a threat, a factor for growth rather than a cause for decline, a solution rather than a challenge or a risk. However, there have been major changes and serious deviations in UK's perception and definition of China. This is particularly evidenced by the recent ban on Huawei.

The issue of Huawei is not 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 and a partner, or a threat and a rival? Does it see China as a friendly country, or a "hostile" or "potentially hostile" state?

The UK leaders have said on many occasions that they want to build a balanced, positive and constructive China-UK relationship. We hope they will match their words with actions.

The world is undergoing increasingly profound changes unseen in a century. Covid-19 is still ravaging, dealing a heavy blow to economic globalization and resulting in a deep recession of the world economy. What kind of China-UK relationship do we need in face of such a situation?

China and the UK are both permanent members of the UN Security Council and important members of the G20 and other international organizations. Both are countries of global influence. Both shoulder the important mission of safeguarding world peace and promoting development.

A sound and stable China-UK relationship is not only in the fundamental interests of the peoples of the two countries but also conducive to world peace and prosperity. We have a thousand reasons to make this relationship successful, and not one reason to let it fail.

How can we make it successful? I think it is critically important to follow three principles:

First, respect each other.

History tells us that when international law and the basic norms governing international relations are observed, China-UK relationship will move forward; otherwise, it will suffer setbacks or even retrogression.

China respects the UK's sovereignty and has never interfered in the UK's internal affairs. It is important that the UK do the same, namely, respect China's sovereignty and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs, so as to avoid further harm to China-UK relationship.

The second principle is: engage in mutually-beneficial cooperation.

China and the UK have highly complementary economies and deeply integrated interests. The two sides have both benefited tremendously from cooperation. Such mutual benefit should not be gauged by an over-simplified comparison of who is more dependent on the other or who has been "taken advantage of".

It is our hope that the UK would resist the pressure and coercion of a certain country, and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese investment, so as to bring back the confidence of Chinese businesses in the UK.

China and the UK already share broad consensus on safeguarding multilateralism, promoting free trade and addressing global challenges such as climate change. When Brexit is completed and Covid-19 is over, there will be unlimited prospects for China-UK cooperation in the areas of trade, financial services, science and technology, education and health care.

It is hard to imagine a "global Britain" that bypasses or excludes China. "Decoupling" from China means decoupling from opportunities, decoupling from growth, and decoupling from the future.

The third principle is: seek common ground despite differences.

China and the UK differ in history, culture, social system and development stage. It is natural that we do not always see eye to eye.

Seventy years ago, the UK was the first major Western country to recognize New China. For the past 70 years, China and the UK have found common ground despite differences and went beyond ideological differences to achieve continuous progress in their bilateral relationship.

Today, after 70 years, this relationship has been more substantial and profound. It is not a relationship between rivals, where one side's gain is the other's loss. Still less is it a relationship of "either-or" that exists between hostile states. China-UK relationship is one of partnership, which is defined by equal treatment and mutual benefit.

China and the UK should have enough wisdom and capability to manage and deal with differences, rather than allowing anti-China forces and "Cold-War" warriors to "kidnap" China-UK relationship.

I often say "Great Britain" cannot be "Great" without independent foreign policies. The UK has withstood the pressure from others and made the right strategic choices at many critical historical junctures,

  • from becoming the first major Western country to recognize the People's Republic of China in 1950, to establishing diplomatic relationship with China at the chargé d'affaires level in 1954;
  • from taking part in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to building a global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century with China.

Now, China-UK relationship is once again standing at a critical historical juncture. It is my hope that political leaders and visionary people from all sectors in the UK would keep in mind the big picture of the international trend, prevent various disruptions and make the strategic choice that serves the fundamental interests of the peoples of our two countries.

Thank you.

Now I would like to take your questions.

BBC: Ambassador, good morning. As you say, relations between the United Kingdom and China have deteriorated significantly in recent weeks over Hong Kong, Huawei and Xinjiang. Throughout that process, you and various other government representatives have threatened consequences, counter-measures, even counter-attacks, to use the language of last week. And yet it's still not entirely clear to me what those counter-measures are. So could you elaborate a little bit more? Is China retaliating in secret, or is its bark worse than its bite?

Ambassador Liu: I want to set the record straight. We made no threats. We threaten nobody, as I said. We just let you know the consequences. People regard some of my remarks as threatening words. I think they quote my remarks out of context. As I said, China wants to be friends of the UK. China wants to be the UK's partners. But if you do not want to be our friend, you want to treat China as a hostile country, you will pay the price. That's simple. It's very clear. That means you will lose the benefits of treating China as opportunities and as a friend. And you will bear the consequences of treating China as a hostile country. So that's very clear.

And you're talking about the counter-measures. I think you have already seen that after the UK announced that they are going to change the policy on BNO, we have made a response by saying, we are considering not to recognize the BNO passports as legal travel documents. That is because the UK takes the measure that is a departure from their commitments under the MOU of 1984. At that time, they said they were not going to give right of abode to the BNO holders. And we also agreed to regard the BNO passport as a legal travel document. Now since they have violated their commitments, we have to make a response.

Again, with regard to extradition treaty, the UK suspends it indefinitely. I think it will undermine the basis for legal collaboration between the UK and Hong Kong. China has to make a response to that and we announced that Hong Kong government also suspends the extradition treaty with the UK. And they also suspend the mutual legal assistance agreement with the UK because the basis and the foundations of the legal collaboration between the two sides have been undermined.

Sky News: Thank you, Ambassador. On Hong Kong, in the last couple of days, we've seen a small number of people being arrested under these new security laws, seemingly just for posting comments on the internet, and also a number of pro-democracy activists today being disqualified from running in the elections. Doesn't this really prove the concerns that the UK have about the national security law undermining Hong Kong's freedoms? If I may, as you mentioned Xinjiang, have you had any more clarity about those images that you were shown a couple of weeks ago on the BBC? European security sources say they believe those men who are shackled and shaven, and in those suits, were members of the Uighur minority. Why were they being transported and treated in such a way?

Ambassador Liu: First, on Hong Kong, the National Security Law is about plugging the legal loopholes for safeguarding national security. You know, since handover, for the past 23 years, there has been no law taking care of the national security. We've seen what happened last year. People talk about "One Country, Two Systems". But we all witnessed how "One Country" has been eroded, how "One Country" has been put at risk. It's timely for the Central Government and the National People's Congress to enact the law to plug the loopholes.

It has nothing to do with freedom of speech or freedom of expression. It has been clearly stipulated in the National Security Law that the basic human rights will be fully respected. This law is only targeted at a very few criminals who intend to endanger the national security. The law is very clear with four categories of crimes. If you stay away from these categories of crimes, you will have no problem with regard to a freedom of expression, freedom of procession, freedom of demonstrations. So the capitalist system will not change, and Hong Kong would continue to enjoy independent judicial system, including power of final adjudication. So I think this law will only make "One Country, Two Systems" more sustainable. And so that's why it's overwhelmingly supported by the Hong Kong people. About three million Hong Kong people have signed up a petition to show their support for this law because they want to have a peaceful, prosperous and stable environment for Hong Kong.

With regard to Xinjiang, I will respond a little later but I will certainly respond to your question.

CGTN: Good morning, Ambassador. So you just mentioned that China might stop recognizing BNO passports as valid travel documents. What would that mean in practice for Hong Kong residents who want to travel to the UK? And also, how do you see a path forward for restoring trust and goodwill between China and the UK which has diminished so much on both sides?

Ambassador Liu: China has done nothing to weaken the mutual trust between the two countries. As I said, we see the UK as a partner, as a friendly country. We want to advance this relationship and the "golden era" between our two countries. As I said on many occasions, we are about to celebrate its fifth anniversary. It's a time for celebration. But unfortunately, it's the UK side that has done things to undermine the mutual trust by making unwarranted accusation of the National Security Law, to interrupt the implementation of this law and to interfere in Hong Kong internal affairs.

So I think, as I already said in my presentation, the way out for China-UK relations are the three basic principles: mutual respect, non interference into each other's internal affairs, and treat each other as equals and partners. And we do recognize we have differences. But we need to address these differences on equal basis and recognize differences. China has no intention to change the UK. I think the UK should have no intention to change China. I think we have more common grounds and common interests to unite our two countries than differences that divide us. China and the UK, as countries of global influence, have enormous duties to live up to our responsibility to promote world peace and world prosperity. There are so many common agenda in front of us.

With regard to the specific question you mentioned. Since the UK violated its commitment with regard to BNO, we have to let them know that we have to take our measures not to recognize the BNO passport as a valid travel document.

Reuters: Thank you very much, Ambassador. I just wanted to sort of take a slightly bigger picture. My apology if this is a stupid question, but it seems clear that US president Donald Trump sees China as the major geopolitical foe of the 21st century. So, do you see a new cold war between the west and China? How do you react to the view that President Xi has been too assertive over recent years, and this has upset the Americans.

Ambassador Liu: I think you have already answered your own questions. It's not China that has become assertive. It's the other side of the Pacific Ocean, who wants to start a new cold war on China. So we have to make response to that. We have no interest in any cold war. We have no interest in any wars. When the United States started this trade war against China, we said there would be no winner in a trade war and we wanted to engage with them. Then we had a phase one agreement. We are still keeping engaging with them. But I think this coronavirus really worsened the situation, because we have all seen what is happening in United States. They tried to find a scapegoat in China. They want to blame China for their problems.

We all know this is the election year. I've been posted twice in Washington. I witnessed five elections, on the ground, in person, not from a distance. People say, US politicians will say anything in order to get elected in the election years. It seems to me this year, it is likely that they are going to not only say anything but also do anything, including treating China as an enemy. Probably they think they need an enemy. They think they need a cold war. But we have no interest. We keep telling Americans: China is not your enemy. China is your friend and your partner. Your enemy is the virus. I hope that the US politicians will focus on fighting the virus and saving lives instead of blaming China.

CCTV: Good morning, Ambassador. My question is: the Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry shared her opinions in Financial Times a few days ago. She said that the UK cannot afford to self-isolate from China because of the huge benefits from the collaboration between the two countries. But I think as you just mentioned, some of the British politicians hold the opposite opinion. So what's your comment on that? And also, if it's allowed, can I ask another question: I think you have watched many videos and pictures in the previous interview with the local media. And also you have stated and clarified many times on the Chinese policy on the Xinjiang issue. But I think probably my western colleagues are still keen on the similar topics. Personally I think they probably like to blame China for this issue a lot. So what's your comment on this kind of communication? Thank you.

Ambassador Liu: As I said in my opening remarks, I think China-UK relations are really mutually beneficial. I quite agree with the Director-General of CBI.

Let me give you a few figures. Some people say that China gains more from this relationship. I don't think this is true. In the past 20 years, from 1999 to 2020, UK exports to China increased twenty times. Since I became Chinese Ambassador, trade between our two countries has doubled. In the past 10 years Chinese investment increased twenty times. So these two "twenty times" are really self evident.

It created enormous jobs. And Chinese tourists to this country each year supported 11,000 jobs. And the UK is the largest recipient of Chinese students in Europe. Of course, Chinese students benefit from studying here. But they have also made contribution to this country. The students' expenditure alone, according to a Cambridge study, supported 17,000 jobs in 2018, not to mention the contribution made by Huawei. They have helped build the telecommunications industry in this country. And also, some "cold war warriors" as Chinese people call them are trying to find another target in the nuclear project where Chinese companies are working together with their French and British partners. I think this project will serve the interests of the UK, and also help the UK to achieve its goal of realising zero-emission by 2050. I really hope that the politicians will look at this from an objective perspective. This is a win-win relationship.

Since two journalists asked questions about Xinjiang, I want to make a response.

On issues relating to Xinjiang, there are so many fallacies and lies that permeate the Western media. They can well be called "the lies of the century". Moreover, some Western countries have been using Xinjiang-related issues to discredit China and interfere in China's internal affairs. Regrettably, the UK is one of them. I would like to take this opportunity to debunk the lies and let facts be known, so as to show you the real Xinjiang.

First, Xinjiang-related issues have nothing to do with human rights, ethnic groups or religions, but everything to do with fighting violent terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Since 1990s, especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, terrorist, separatist and religious extremist forces have launched thousands of violent attacks in Xinjiang, resulting in devastating casualties of innocent people and huge loss of property. During the riots on July 5th, 2009, which shocked Xinjiang and the whole world, 197 lives were lost and more than 1,700 people injured.

In face of such grave situations, the Government of Xinjiang Autonomous Region has struck down upon violent terrorist activities in accordance with law and adopted de-radicalisation measures to address the root causes. These measures have been very effective: there has not been a single terrorist attack for more than three years in a row in Xinjiang, and the basic rights of all ethnic groups, especially the rights to life, health and development, are fully safeguarded. Therefore, these measures have won extensive and heartfelt support from people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

These measures have also been an important contribution to the global fight against terrorism, and thus won positive response from the international community. Since the end of 2018, more than 1,000 people in over 70 groups, including officials from the United Nations, members of foreign diplomatic corps in China, permanent representatives to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva, journalists and representatives of faith groups, have visited Xinjiang. They represent over 90 countries. They spoke highly of the counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation measures in Xinjiang, saying that these measures are in line with the purposes and principles of the United Nations in striking down upon terrorism and safeguarding basic human rights, and should be fully recognized and shared with other countries.

In October 2019, representatives from more than 60 countries spoke at the 74th session of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in recognition of the human rights progress in Xinjiang. In July this year, representatives from 46 countries made a joint statement at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council in support of China's position and the counter-terrorism measures in Xinjiang.

Now I would like to play a video to help you see the harm caused by terrorist, separatist and extremist attacks in Xinjiang, so that you will understand why the measures taken in Xinjiang against terrorism, separatism and extremism are necessary and important.

Second, there are many rumours and lies about the vocational education and training centres in Xinjiang, calling them "concentration camps" or "re-education camps". The truth is they are none of these. They are useful and positive explorations of preventative and de-radicalisation measures.

The centres were established to address the root causes for extremism and prevent further escalation of violent terrorist activities. They are in line with the principles and the spirit embodied in a number of international documents on counter-terrorism, such as the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In nature, they are no different from the Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) of the UK, the community corrections in the United States, or the de-radicalisation centres in France.

At the vocational education and training centres, those who have been led astray by extremist ideas or who have committed minor crimes could learn the common language, legal knowledge and vocational skills. Such education and training will strengthen their ability to break away and stay away from extremist ideas and master vocational skills, and help them to not only become law-abiding citizens but also find stable jobs, earn their own living and live a better life.

At the centres,

  • The Constitutional and legal principles on respecting and safeguarding human rights are strictly followed, the dignity of the trainees is fully respected, and insults and abuse of all forms are strictly prohibited.
  • The freedom of trainees is guaranteed. The centres are managed as boarding schools. Trainees can have home visits or ask for leave to attend to private affairs.
  • Meanwhile, the right of the trainees to use languages of ethnic groups is also fully guaranteed. All rules and regulations, school timetables and menus are written in both the common language and languages of ethnic groups.
  • The customs and habits of different ethnic groups are fully respected and protected. A variety of Halal food are provided for free.
  • The freedom of religious belief is also fully respected and protected. Religious believers have the freedom to attend lawful religious activities while on home leave.

Now I would like to show you a video in which the trainees of the vocational education and training centres tell the stories of their life in the centres.

Third, let me turn to four lies and slanders widely spread in Western media about Xinjiang. I think it is wrong to allow the lies and slanders to run amok, or to let arrogance and prejudice prevent people from seeing the facts and truth. So it is important to get the facts and truth out there, so that people could make up their own minds from an objective and reasonable perspective.

The first lie is that "nearly a million Uygurs in Xinjiang are detained".

This is a lie cooked up by an anti-China organization and an anti-China individual.

The organization is the so-called "Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD)" backed by the government of the United States. Armed with interviews with only eight people who are ethnic Uygurs and based on an extremely rough estimation, CHRD reached an absurd conclusion that 10% of the more than 20 million people in Xinjiang are detained at so-called "re-education camps".

The anti-China individual is called Adrian Zenz, a far-right fundamentalist funded by the government of the United States. He published an article on the journal Central Asian Survey, claiming that "Xinjiang's total re-education internment figure may be estimated at just over one million." According to The Grayzone, an independent news website, Zenz's conclusion is based on a single report by Istiqlal TV. This so-called "Uygur exile media organization" based in Turkey is far from being a media organization. Istiqlal TV is an organization that advocates separatism and extremism. And Zenz himself believes that he is "led by God" on a "mission" against China.

A few days ago when I gave an interview on BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr. Marr showed me a footage which he said has "been authenticated by Western intelligence agencies and by Australian experts" to prove that a large number of Uygurs are detained. Now let's see what is really happening.

The video shows transfer of a group of prisoners by the Kashgar Detention House. It has nothing to do with the so-called "detainment of a large number of Uygurs". China's criminal law does not target specific ethnic group or religion. Everyone is equal before the law. The transfer of prisoners by judicial authorities is a normal judicial practice and brooks no distortion or defamation.

The second lie is that "Xinjiang has demolished a large number of mosques".

The fact is, there are 24,400 mosques in Xinjiang, which means there is on average one mosque for every 530 Muslims. This ratio is higher than that in some Muslim countries and also higher than the number of churches per Christian in England.

The Jiami Mosque of Yecheng County and the Id Kah Mosque in Hotan prefecture, which were claimed to have been "dismantled", were in fact renovated and put to use again. Those who cooked up the lies used the photo of the old, dilapidated mosques to support their lies. But I will refute their lies with photos of the new, renovated mosques.

The third lie is that "forced sterilization is carried out in Xinjiang".

The fact is, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is one of the five ethnic autonomous regions in China. It is home to many ethnic groups, including 13 ethnic groups who have been living there for generations. It is a place where 25 million people of all ethnic groups call home and live together in harmony.

The Chinese Government protects the lawful rights and interests of people of all ethnic groups, big or small in population. Over the years, the Uygur people and other ethnic minorities have enjoyed a preferential population policy. Between 1978 and 2018, the Uygur population in Xinjiang doubled, from 5.55 million to 11.68 million.

The true identities or stories of the so-called "victims" in the on-line videos about Uygurs being "prosecuted" are not what they claim. These self-claimed "victims" are either the so-called "East Turkistan" elements engaged in anti-China and separatist activities, or "actors" trained by anti-China forces in the US and other Western countries to spread rumours about China. Their claims have no factual ground. The relatives and friends of some of these people in Xinjiang have stood up to refute these rumours and lies.

At the Andrew Marr Show I mentioned earlier, Mr. Marr showed me another video of a so-called "victim". This woman in the video, whose name is Zumrat Dawut, claimed that she went through "forced sterilization". But her sister and brother publicly refuted her lies last November. It turns out that she has never been to any vocational education and training centre, she had an operation because she was diagnosed with myoma of uterus when she had her third child, and she has never been "forced to get sterilized". Now let's watch a video interview given by her sister and brother.

The fourth lie is that "mass forced labour is taking place in Xinjiang".

In fact, this is yet another story fabricated by a hidden hand. This hidden hand is called the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), which is funded by the US government and arms dealers. This institute made up the so-called "Uyghurs for sale" report last March, which is a distorted description of people from the southern Xinjiang seeking job opportunities in central and eastern China and trying to make a living and get rid of poverty. The report refers to stories of these people as "forced labour".

After that, this absurd report was used as "evidence" by the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China to make up the so-called "Global Supply Chains, Forced Labor, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" report to fling slanders at China.

Now I would like to show you another video to lay bare their lies.

The Chinese people often say, "One does not know how vast and beautiful China is until one visits Xinjiang." This vast and beautiful region is now witnessing sustained economic growth, social harmony and stability, improved wellbeing, and unprecedented cultural prosperity. People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are leading a secure life, getting along with each other in harmony, and enjoying full rights to life and development. Their freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities are protected by law. Now is the best time in history for Xinjiang to achieve development.

Rumours will not write off China's progress in safeguarding human rights in Xinjiang. Attempts to disrupt Xinjiang's development and prosperity will never succeed. It is my hope that you will not believe the rumours or the deceptive words of anti-China elements and politicians.

We urge the UK Government to view the progress and achievements in Xinjiang from a comprehensive and objective perspective, stop making irresponsible remarks on Xinjiang, and stop using Xinjiang to interfere in China's internal affairs. We also hope that British media will discard their arrogance and prejudice, and report and cover Xinjiang in an objective and fair manner so as to help the British public see the real Xinjiang.

ITV: Thank you, Ambassador. Will China agree to allow a team from the United Nations Human Rights Council to visit Xinjiang and the facilities that you have just shown us to carry out an independent investigation, unfettered, without any interference of the Chinese Communist Party to see for themselves what is going on there?

Ambassador Liu: As I told you, since 2018 there have been about 1000 diplomats, journalists and representatives from various countries, and international organisations who have been to Xinjiang. We also welcome the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang. The invitation is always there.

What we are opposed to is the so-called "independent investigation" that has ulterior motives, which is trying to use Xinjiang issue to interfere into China's internal affairs. Xinjiang's door is always open. Each year there are hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting Xinjiang. People who go there with good intention, objective and not biased, will be welcomed.

Associated Press: Ambassador, thank you for taking my question. I would like to draw upon your long history in the United States to ask you whether or not you believe relations with the US are at "a point of no return", given the statements from the Trump Administration and the continuing threats that they could make against China?

Ambassador Liu: I certainly hope not. China still believes that good relations based on mutual respect, non-confrontation, cooperation and coordination are in the best interests of the two countries. We have no intention to undermine this relationship. And we'll try our best to engage the US side.

But as I said on many occasions, you need two to tango. You need two hands to make a clap.

I also believe that there is a broad-based public support for the relations. Since Nixon's visit to China in 1972, both countries have worked to build a relationship based on common interests. I think the common interests of the two countries are still there. The foundations, especially among the American people, are still there. American people still support engagement with China. When we heard US Secretary of State make this anti-Chinese Communist Party remarks, I would call it a declaration of cold war, we've seen many criticism of his statement by American people. People are concerned where this administration will take this relationship.

So I don't think we have passed the "point of no return". I think the fundamental interests that tie the two countries together should be there. And I think the people with a vision, with farsightedness, still work to maintain the fundamentals of this relationship. I hope that common sense will prevail at the end of the day.

Xinhua News Agency: On Huawei, Huawei has been saying that it is an independent and privately-held company, not affiliated with the Chinese government. So why has the Chinese government spared no effort to defend Huawei in the ongoing row? And also if the China-UK relations continue to sour, is there any possibility that the two countries will find themselves in a relationship that is characterized by "hot economically" and "cold politically"(zheng leng jing re), which once happened between China and Japan? Thank you.

Ambassador Liu: On Huawei, I've just published an article in the South China Morning Post. I'm not trying to advertise my article, but I really hope you could take some time to read this article.

As a matter of fact, I have tried my very best to contribute my article to major British newspapers, because it's really relevant. I think British public needs to hear the other side of the story right after the UK government's decision to ban Huawei. Unfortunately, no major newspaper would like to carry my article.

I've been here for 10 years. Now I really have a taste of what the "freedom of press" is about in the UK. One of your colleagues earlier told me that they only want to carry articles which they believe will sell better. So they do not carry my article on Hong Kong. They do not carry my article on Huawei. So I really have to let my article to fly thousands of miles to Hong Kong, to the South China Morning Post. They told me they still have some readers in the UK. So I decided, okay, that's good. I encourage you to read my article in which I said, to refuse Huawei is to refuse opportunities, refuse growth and refuse the future. I do not need to elaborate on my main points.

I just want to answer your question about China-UK relationship. As I said in my opening remarks, this issue of Huawei is not about one Chinese company. It's about how the UK treats and deals with China. It is about the big picture. Do you treat China as an opportunity or do you treat China as a threat? Do you treat China as a partner, or you treat China as a rival? That is a fundamental issue. You have to make a choice.

Secondly, governments have to provide protection for the legitimate rights and interests of the business people. It's true not only for the Chinese government, but also true for the UK government. I've been here for 10 years. I remember vividly how British leaders and politicians worked very hard for your businesses. I still remember even your Prime Minister tried to promote the sale of Diageo while our Premier was here, in a hope that there should be a signing ceremony for the Diageo project in China. I still remember that your Chancellor of Exchequer pushed very hard for the Chinese side to buy the engines of Rolls-Royce. They told us Rolls-Royce produces much better engines than any other countries, including GE from the United States. I still remembered that your Business Secretary even went to China to promote the sale of British steel, asked Chinese companies to buy British Steel. And they ended up with a buyer called JINGYE who agreed to invest for the next 10 years 1.2 billion pounds.

I think there's no question about the government working for the business interests of the country. So I think you can't regard China's efforts to raise the Huawei issue as an example of what some "cold war warriors" claim -- that this shows that Huawei is close to the Chinese government. We treat Chinese businesses as equals. We hope Huawei is succeeding in this country. It's a win-win. So that's why I said on the day of the decision made by the British government that the day was a dark day for Huawei, a dark day for China-UK relations, and an even darker day for the United Kingdom because it will miss the opportunity to be a leading country in 5G infrastructure.

You also mentioned the relationship being "cold politically and warm economically". I think the two are related. You need to have a good atmosphere to engage each other. When I said it was a dark day for China-UK relations, it's because the decision really undermines the trust between the two countries and the credibility of the UK government. So that's why there are quite some concerns from Chinese businesses. I had a webinar with Chinese businesses right after the UK's ban on Huawei. They all expressed their concerns because there's a security risk, there's an investment risk. So I think you can't separate the two. We have no intention to politicize economic affairs. But you have to realize that trust and credibility are important for countries to engage each other.

Thank you for your questions.

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