China says British politicians using 'seriously poisoned relations' to incite new cold war

Ambassador denies human rights abuses in Xinjiang

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Thursday 30 July 2020 13:25
Comments
Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming during a news conference in London
Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming during a news conference in London

China's ambassador to Britain has warned that "Cold War warriors" want to damage relations between Beijing and Britain and spark a new conflict.

In an online press conference for British media Liu Xiaoming, acknowledged that the disagreements over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, tech giant Huawei, and Hong Kong had "seriously poisoned the atmosphere".

"A stronger China will make the world a more peaceful, stable and prosperous place. However, some British politicians cling to the Cold War mentality," he said.

"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."

Beijing's ambassador, who spoke for around an hour in an address punctuated with propaganda videos, rejected claims of abuse against Uighur Muslims, describing claims by human rights groups as "the lies of the century".

Mr Liu said: "China respects UK sovereignty and has never interfered in the UK's internal affairs.

"It is important the UK will do the same – namely, respect China's sovereignty and stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs, which are China's internal affairs, so as to avoid further damage to the China-UK relationship."

The imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong prompted the British government to give extra rights to Hong Kongers to come to the UK, as well as a suspension of extradition arrangements with the territory. China has in turn responded by saying it might not recognise British Overseas National passports as legitimate travel documents.

Meanwhile, following a US lead, the UK government has excluded Chinese company Huawei from involvement in Britain's 5G network on national security ground, a U-turn on its earlier position.

As a result, Boris Johnson's government has come under pressure from some hawkish MPs on the Tory benches calling for a tougher stance against China. Labour and other opposition parties have also pushed for targeted sanctions against China on the basis of reported human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China says mass detention centres reported by human rights observers are "deredicalisation camps".

Mr Liu said: "It's our hope that the UK would resist the pressure and coercion from a certain country and provide an open, fair, transparent and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese investment so as to bring back the confidence of Chinese businesses in the UK."

He added that once the Brexit and Covid-19 issues are dealt with, "there will be unlimited prospects for China-UK co-operation in areas of trade, financial services, science and technology, education and healthcare. 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."

He said he hoped the two countries have "enough wisdom and capabilities" to manage their differences "rather than allowing anti-China forces and Cold War warriors to kidnap the China-UK relationship".

"Great Britain cannot be great without independent foreign policies," he said.

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