Ambassador: 'It's the UK that's changed'
The United Kingdom should take full responsibility for current difficulties in the China-UK relationship, Beijing's top diplomat in London said during an online news conference on Thursday.
Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, condemned what he described as the UK's "blatant interference" in China's affairs recently, particularly relating to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.
He said the UK's interference in China's internal affairs had "seriously poisoned the atmosphere" of the bilateral relationship.
Citing State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's telephone conversation with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday, Liu said "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".
Asked if China and the UK will experience "warm economic ties" and "cold political relations", Liu said Beijing has no intention of politicizing economic affairs, but that trust and credibility are important for countries engaging with each other
"China has not changed. It's the UK that's changed," he said.
"Economic ties and political relations are related. You need to have a good atmosphere to engage with each other," Liu said while adding that Chinese businesses have expressed concern about investment risks and security issues in the wake of the UK banning Huawei from participating in its 5G networks.
"The issue of Huawei is not about how the UK sees and deals with a Chinese company," he said. "It is about how the UK sees and deals with China."
Liu emphasized that a "sound and safe" China-UK relationship must be based on three principles: respect for each other, engagement in mutually beneficial cooperation, and the seeking of common ground in spite of differences. And he clarified recent remarks he made that had been misinterpreted that included mention of "consequences" for the UK if it treats China as a "hostile" country.
"We made no threats. We threaten nobody," he said. "People who regard some of my remarks as threatening words are quoting my remarks out of context. I said China wants to be a friend of the UK and China wants to be the UK's partner. But if you do not want to be our partner and our friend, if you want to treat China as a hostile country, you will pay the price."
In response to the UK's decision to provide a pathway to residency and citizenship for Chinese nationals in Hong Kong who hold a British National Overseas passport, or who are eligible for one, China's Foreign Ministry said on July 24 that China will consider withdrawing recognition of BNO passports as valid travel documents.
Liu also shared several videos of what he said is the "real Xinjiang", a part of China that has had problems in the past with terrorism, separatism, and extremism but that is now a stable place, where people can live a better life regardless of their ethnic or religious background. He said there are many "fallacies and lies" in the Western media related to Xinjiang.
"Some Western countries have been using Xinjiang-related issues to try to discredit China and interfere in China's internal affairs," he said. "Regrettably, the UK is one of them."
Instead, Liu called on the British government to "view the progress and achievements" made in Xinjiang from a comprehensive and objective perspective, to stop making irresponsible remarks about Xinjiang, and to stop using Xinjiang to interfere in China's internal affairs.
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