Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Gives Exclusive Live Interview to BBC Newsnight Published: 2019/6/13 13:21:36

On June 12, 2019, H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming gave a exclusive live interview to BBC Newnight hosted by Mark Urban. Ambassador Liu talked about China's position on issues relating to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Huawei, and answered questions. The transcript is as follows:

Urban: We are joined by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, who's been the Chinese Ambassador to UK since 2009. Quite a period! Ambassador, let's start with the Joint Declaration. That treaty. Is China still committed to upholding it?

Ambassador: We are upholding the principle of one country, two systems. This promise has been made not only to Britain, but to the world, to the Chinese people, including those in Hong Kong. The Joint Declaration has completed its mission after Hong Kong's handover. And now, I think the "one country two systems" has been very successful in Hong Kong.

Urban: You say it has completed its mission, I want to put to you something your foreign ministry spokesman said two years ago, that the Declaration no longer has realistic mean, it is purely an historic document.

Ambassador: It is an historic document. It completed its mission.

Urban: So it's irrelevant?

Ambassador: It's relevant in that it sets a good example for the international community to settle a dispute between nations by peaceful means, so it's still a shining, successful example for people to follow. But that Declaration gives British Government no sovereignty, no right, no legitimacy to interfere into the internal affairs of Hong Kong.

Urban: No sovereignty that is clear. That ended in 1997, but still an interest and a feeling on the part of hundreds of thousands of people in Hong Kong that Britain has a duty to protect their rights, under the terms of that promise.

Ambassador: The British government has a duty to protect your own citizens but not the people of Hong Kong. The citizens of Hong Kong are, you know, they are part of China now, Hong Kong, and according to basic law, Hong Kong people will run their own affairs and they are entitled to implementing their social system different from the mainland. But it has nothing to do with the British government.

Urban: I am sure you can see, putting the British Government to one side now, just the feeling of the people in Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands, some say 10% of the entire population have come out on the streets, a nerve has been touched that Beijing is not respecting their right to a separate system...

Ambassador: This is not correct. The whole story has been distorted. This case is about rectifying the deficiencies, plugging the loopholes of the existing legal system.

Urban: Who is distorting this?

Ambassador: The media, including BBC, I think. You portrayed the story as the Hong Kong government making this amendment at the instruction of the Central Government. As a matter of fact, the Central Government gave no instruction, no order about making amendment. This amendment was initiated by the Hong Kong government. It is prompted by a murder case happened in Taiwan and this...

Urban: Sorry. Excuse me, would you advice the Hong Kong government then to drop it, given how controversial…

Ambassador: Why should we ask them to drop?

Urban: You can see what people, even the legislators, say. One man said "you are beating people out of Hong Kong" to the police. That is the scene we are seeing in the territory now as a result of this ...

Ambassador: But you have to remember that at the very beginning it has been a peaceful demonstration, but it has become ugly afterwards. A policeman was beaten, and the police had to defend themselves. They had to put the order in place, so you can't blame the policemen. I think there are always the forces inside and outside Hong Kong that try to take advantage of things, to stir up trouble. Let me come back to the...

Urban: But this is a domestic, grass roots movement of people in Hong Kong.

Ambassador: But, you know, it has been exaggerated to one million. As a matter of fact, according police count, it is about 200,000 people. But you ignore 800,000 people who sign up to support the amendment. This silent majority has not been fully reported in this country by the BBC.

Urban: Well, you are making the case now.

Ambassador: And also the Hong Kong government invited the Hong Kong public for suggestion, opinion, and they received 4,500 replies, 3,000 supported the amendment and only 1,500 oppose the amendment.

Urban: I want to move onto one or two of my other issues.

What effect do you think it has on people in Hong Kong when they see the treatment of Uighurs in eastern Xinjiang. An estimated one million people, Muslims minorities…

Ambassador: Again you are exaggerating. I don't know where you get this one million people.

Urban: It is a UN estimate.

Ambassador: I don't think the UN has any report on this. There are education and training centres to help people who have been brainwashed by extremists to return to society, to earn their living, to train them on skills, language and the knowledge of the law, so they can protect their own interests.

Urban: Can we have access, can we see what is going on?

Ambassador: Of course, we invited journalists and diplomats to visit.

Urban: But we are hearing reports that what happens in there is an assault on their Muslim faith.

Ambassador: That is completely wrong.

Urban: that they are prevented from praying, they are told that as a backward religion …

Ambassador: These are all distortions, it is all made up, fake news, I would say. We respect people to have their freedom of religion. People are entitled to have their religion. And the important thing is, you are missing the big picture. The reason for these centres is to educate those young people who have been intoxicated by extremist ideas. And ever since these measures, there have been no extremist violent incidents in Xinjiang for the past three years, which means these measures have been successful.

Urban: I think anyone might understand why you want to prevent terrorist acts or have de-radicalisation, I think that is because you might have in common with many other governments and societies around the world, but what we hear persistent reports of is a very large number of people, up to a million, involved in this re-education process which sounds frankly sinister.

Ambassador: I don't know where you get this number, one million.

Urban: What would your estimate be?

Ambassador: It is difficult to give a number because there are those going in, going out. The number changes from time to time, but the important thing to focus on here is the purpose of the centre. It is not, you know, to round up people. The purpose is to help these young people to have a better life after education and training.

Urban: You are saying the purpose is not to eradicate the religion among these people, it is not the aim of this exercise?

Ambassador: Not at all.

Urban: Huawei. It's a big subject, I am sure, for you in your post in London. It's something you care a lot about. The British Government has been in a position where it seems to make an interim decision or advice to use some elements of Huawei's technology in its 5G network. Now as you know, quite a lot of pressure from the United States not to do so at all. Will there be consequences, do you think, from the Chinese point of view, if Britain decides not to use it at all?

Ambassador: First of all, I would say Huawei is a good company. It is a leader in 5G. They are here for win-win cooperation with their British counterparts. And they contribute tremendously not only to telecom industry in this country, but they employ 7000 people. In terms of win-win collaboration, if the UK collaborates with Huawei, there will be promising future for both sides.

Urban: They have got advanced technology, no one doubts about it. But what if the UK chooses not to?

Ambassador: I think it would send a very bad message not only to Huawei but also to Chinese businesses. Will the UK remain open? Will the UK still be a business friendly environment for Chinese companies? It would send a very bad signal.

Urban: Negative effects on trade?

Ambassador: Yes, bad. Not just on trade but also on investment. For the past 5 years, the investment from China exceeded the total investment in the previous 30 years. So, Chinese investments are booming in this country. In the last year it increased by 14%, but if you shut the door for Huawei, it will send a very bad and negative message to other Chinese businesses.

Urban: On that note, Ambassador, thank you very much for joining us.

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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