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Home > News in Pictures
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Holds Press Conference on China-UK Relationship
2020/07/31

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.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Liu said, 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? My answer is, 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,” noted the Ambassador.

He pointed out that, first, China’s determination to follow the basic norms governing international relations has not changed. China has never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries, including the UK, and China asks the same from other countries. Recently, however, the above-mentioned important principles have been violated time and again. “There has been blatant interference from the UK in Hong Kong affairs, which are internal affairs of China. These moves have severely disrupted the stability and prosperity in Hong Kong. These actions have seriously poisoned atmosphere of China-UK relationship,” said the Ambassador.

Second, China’s commitment to the path of peaceful development has not changed. 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 clamor for a “new Cold War” against China.

Third, China’s resolve to fulfill its international obligations has not changed. China has faithfully fulfilled its international responsibilities and obligations. It has never withdrawn from international organizations or treaties. Nor does it believe in “us first” at the expense of others. “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,” said the Ambassador, adding that “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, and disrupt the implementation of the National Security Law.”

Fourth, China’s willingness to develop partnership with the UK has not changed. 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. “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,” said Ambassador Liu.

Ambassador Liu said that 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. There are a thousand reasons to make this relationship successful, and not one reason to let it fail.

On how to make this relationship successful, Ambassador Liu said, there are three critically important principles to follow. First, respect each other. History shows 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.

Second, 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 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,” said the Ambassador.

Third, seek common ground despite differences. 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, 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,” pointed out by the Ambassador.

Ambassador Liu emphasized that “‘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,” said the Ambassador.

In response to questions relating to Xinjiang, Ambassador Liu said, “there are so many fallacies and lies that permeate the Western media. They can well be called ‘the lies of the century’. 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.”

Ambassador Liu took the opportunity to debunk the lies and let facts be known. 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, such three forces have launched thousands of violent attacks in Xinjiang, resulting in devastating casualties of innocent people and huge loss of property. 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-radicalization 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.

Second, the vocational education and training centres in Xinjiang are useful and positive explorations of preventative and de-radicalisation measures. 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 centres, the constitutional and legal principles on respecting and safeguarding human rights are strictly followed, and the dignity of the trainees is fully respected; the freedom of trainees is guaranteed; the right of the trainees to use languages of ethnic groups is fully guaranteed; the customs and habits of different ethnic groups are fully respected and protected; the freedom of religious belief is also fully respected and protected. 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.

Third, 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.

In the Q&A session, using ample facts and data, Ambassador Liu debunked the four lies and slanders about Xinjiang widely propagated by Western media, including “nearly a million Uygurs in Xinjiang are detained”, “Xinjiang has demolished a large number of mosques”, “forced sterilization is carried out in Xinjiang”, and “forced labour is taking place in Xinjiang”. The Ambassador Liu then played 6 videos showing the harm caused by terrorist, separatist and extremist attacks in Xinjiang, a normal transfer of prisoners by judicial authorities in Xinjiang, photos of new and renovated mosques, the trainees of the vocational education and training centres telling stories of their lives in the centres, and people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang enjoying life safe from terrorism and harmonious with one another. With true stories and interviews with ordinary citizens, these videos firmly refuted the unwarranted lies and accusations.

In closing, Ambassador Liu said, “Xinjiang 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,” said the Ambassador.

Ambassador Liu also took questions regarding China-UK relationship, China-UK economic and trade cooperation, Huawei, Hong Kong, and China-US relationship.

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