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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Gives Interview on China-UK Relations to Bai Yansong on News 1+1 of CCTV-13

On 4 August, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming gave a Live Interview on China-UK relations to Bai Yansong on News 1+1 of CCTV-13. He answered questions on issues of China-UK relations, Huawei, Hong Kong, and UK’s public opinion on China.

When answering a question about the responsibility for the damages in China-UK relations, Ambassador Liu said, “China-UK relations have experienced difficulties under severe circumstances. Some UK politicians&media blame it on China being more assertive and taking negative measures. My response to such accusation is loud and clear: China has not changed. It is the UK that has changed. The UK should take full responsibility for the difficult situation in China UK relations.” He then expounded his view points from four aspects:

“Firstly, China has been true to the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territory integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, which are the fundamental norms established by UN Charter and the basis for China-UK Joint Declaration. We’ve never interfered in UK’s affairs while the UK keeps interfering in China’s affairs by suspending extradition treaty with Hong Kong, changing the status of BNO passport holders, imposing arms embargo, criticizing postponement of Hong Kong legislative election irresponsibly, and harming the China-UK relations.

Secondly, China has always been determined to pursue the path of peaceful development with the intention of providing a happier and healthier life for all Chinese people instead of challenging, threatening or replacing any country. It is those anti-China politicians and “cold-war warriors” in the UK who are poisoning the atmosphere of China-UK relations by calling China a threat and even a hostile country, and by clamouring for “decoupling” and “new cold war” with China.

Thirdly, China has truthfully fulfilled its international obligations. China was the first country to sign the UN Charter 75 years ago and has joined over 100 international organizations and 500 multilateral treaties since then, and has never withdrawn from any. On the contrary, the UK went against the basic international principles and the agreement of 1984 by changing the status of BNO passport holders and indefinitely suspending the extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

Fourthly, China has been working hard to establish a partnership with the UK instead of regarding the UK as a threat, while the UK has changed its position on the relations, seeing China as a potential threat and challenge, which led to the difficult situation in China-UK relations.”

Taking Huawei as an example, he said, “Huawei issue is not simply about a Chinese company. It is about how the UK sees China -- as an opportunity or a threat, as a partner or a rival. It is indeed a major question of right and wrong.

Commenting on whether the U-turn in the UK’s policy on Huawei is the result of the UK following the order of the United States, the Ambassador said this “technical interpretation” given by some UK officials that the ban on Huawei was due to US sanctions is “a very poor defense of a very wrong decision”. “After the UK decided to ban Huawei, US leaders have been competing to take credit for this. Some said, ‘I have been persuading UK not to use Huawei’, and other said ‘congratulations! Well done’. So people can easily see that there is a strong external pressure on the UK,” said the Ambassador.  

“I wrote an article for South China Morning Post entitled By Banning Huawei, Britain Is Turning its Back on a 5G-dominated Future. I believe that refusing Huawei is refusing opportunities, refusing growth and refusing the future.”

“Huawei is a leader in 5G. UK’s refusal to cooperate with Huawei means refusal to play a leading role in 5G. Over 200 years ago, China missed the historic opportunity of the First Industrial Revolution, which was led by Britain. Now, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, with the fifth-generation mobile networks as the key infrastructure, Britain runs the risk of missing the opportunity to take the lead in this thriving new development because it is turning its back on Huawei”, the Ambassador emphasized.

He went on to add, “Refusing cooperation with Chinese companies means there is the risk of missing a share of the bonus of China’s rapid growth. Banning Huawei will result in a delay of at least two to three years in Britain’s 5G roll-out.”

He further explained that Huawei started in Shenzhen, where “Time is money and efficiency is life” was a motto and much encouraged by Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China’s reform and opening up. “A delay of two to three years means that the UK would be still working on 5G while others are rolling out 6G.”

“UK leaders have an ambitious plan to achieve full 5G coverage by 2025. Huawei would have been a great help. If the UK postpones it for two to three years, nobody knows what consequences there will be, and the cost will increase. Why do they want to spend more on lower-quality products?” the Ambassador questioned and expounded that 5G technology has a bearing on every aspect of the future of mankind, including smart city&medical care. In fighting Covid-19, 5G has played an important role in China in remote diagnosis and treatment, quick and high-quality patient services, and better safeguards for medical workers.

“The UK government made the decision to ban Huawei on 14 July. I said, this day is a dark day for Huawei, a dark day for China-UK relations, and a dark day for UK itself. For Huawei, it has lost the UK market; for China-UK relations, bilateral mutual trust has been damaged; for the UK, its credibility as a free and open market and its future growth will suffer serious damage,” said Liu.  

Asked to comment on UK’s interference with Hong Kong, Ambassador Liu said, some people in the UK still have a very strong colonial mindset. Their bodies are in the 21st century, but their heads remain in the old colonial days. They don’t accept Hong Kong’s return to China and the fact that Hong Kong is part of China and China’s special administrative region. “Before the handover, what kind of freedom did people in Hong Kong have? The governor was appointed by British government. Since the handover, Hong Kong people have enjoyed unprecedented freedom. Five Chief Executives were elected. This is a sharp contrast,” exclaimed the Ambassador.

“The British side has not found its proper place with regard to Hong Kong. They claim that they are obliged to supervise Chinese government under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Joint Declaration contains 1137 words,8 paragraphs and 3 annexes. But not a single word or paragraph in it gives the UK any responsibility over Hong Kong after its handover, including the so-called ‘right of supervision’. With Hong Kong’s return to China, all rights and obligations of the British side under the Joint Declaration were completed. The contents of the Joint Declaration about China’s policies regarding Hong Kong were proposed by China on our own initiative. They are not China’s commitments to UK. ‘One Country, Two Systems’ is included in Hong Kong’s Basic Law and has been implemented effectively. It has nothing to do with the Joint Declaration,” he added.

When asked why the British press refused to publish his articles on the National Security Law for Hang Kong and Huawei, Ambassador Liu gave three reasons. First, there’s no so-called freedom of the press in the UK. Newspapers are ready to carry anything that stigmatizes China by MPs, “cold war warriors” and even a foreign envoy from a certain country. But he is given few chances to refute or clarify.

Second, the media -- newspapers, new media or broadcasters -- are biased towards China. Many of their reports on China are untrue, completely different from what his UK friends have seen for themselves in China. So he keeps urging them to tell the true story of China.

Third, there is still a great deal to do in telling the stories of China to the West. As President Xi said, China is no longer bullied by big powers and the people do not go hungry; But there is still a long way to go before the “understanding deficit” is addressed.

   As to China-UK “Golden Era”, Ambassador Liu said, the “Golden Era” is a long term goal. After President Xi’s state visit to the UK in 2015, the relationship between the two countries entered a new stage. The British leaders proposed that China and the UK should jointly create a “Golden Era” and the Chinese side agreed to it. “This year started well. My first speech of the year was in British Parliament. I said, this year is the 5th anniversary of ‘Golden Era’; we should work together to advance China-UK ‘Golden Era’ and create more golden fruits. But then a series of problems occurred”, the Ambassador said, adding that the British leaders said they attach importance to UK-China relations and still recognize the "Golden Era"; they reject a comprehensive “reset” of UK-China relations and do not approve of the outdated Cold War mindset.

Liu said that the British side emphasized it stands for building a “constructive relationship” with China. Quoting a Chinese saying that “to know what people really think, pay attention to not only what they say but also what they do”, he hoped British side will “match its words with actions”.

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