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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Gives Exclusive Live Interview to Sky News All Out Politics

On June 21, 2019, H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming gave an exclusive live interview to Sky News' All Out Politics hosted by Adam Boulton. Ambassador Liu talked about, among other topics, China-UK relations in the context of the just concluded 10th round of the China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue. The transcript is as follows:

Boulton: This is All Out Politics-- news, debate and opinion from the heart of Westminster. A high-level Chinese delegation was in the United Kingdom this week to sign a trade deal worth more than £500 million. But questions remain about the future of the UK-China relationship, given the row over Huawei and the continuing protests in Hong Kong. Joining me now is Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming. Welcome to you, indeed!

Let's talk about trade. First of all, Brexit. Does it offer greater opportunities to the UK or China in their trade relationship?

Ambassador: I hope so. You mentioned this high-level visit by the Chinese Vice Premier. It was very significant. During the visit, 69 outcomes have been signed. This is the tenth Economic and Financial Dialogue, co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier and the Chancellor of the UK. So, in the past 10 years, each year we had one round of dialogue. The trade between China and the UK in goods and services doubled, and investment from China tripled. What is significant of this round of Dialogue is that there is the launch of the Shanghai-London Stock Connect. That was very significant.

Boulton: This is basically selling each other's stocks.

Ambassador: Right. For the first time UK listed companies can sell their shares in Shanghai Stock Market. The UK investors can buy directly from Shanghai.

Boulton: Presumably the United Kingdom is going to need a new trade arrangement with China as we leave the European Union.

Ambassador: We are open to this, but first you have to complete your Brexit. We have been very actively engaged with the UK side in discussing about new arrangement. We want to have partnership with both the EU and the UK.

Boulton: I read in newspapers and magazines that China is bemused by the decision to leave the European Union. Would that be fair?

Ambassador: I don't think so. I will leave it to the UK and the EU to decide. There are both challenges and opportunities. We want to seize the opportunities and try to handle the challenges in an orderly way. The other thing I should mention about this latest round of the Dialogue is the beef. I do not know if you care much about the beef. There has been a ban on import of UK beef for the past 23 years because of the mad cow disease. Now the restriction is lifted.

Boulton: Something for British farmers there.

Ambassador: There is a big demand in China for beef. Every year we import one million tonnes of beef. The UK is an exporter of beef. Each time when the Chinese visitors are here -- and tourists -- they are all looking for Angus beef and Welsh black cattle beef. So, I think there is a big demand for UK beef.

Boulton: Given the relations between Donald Trump's America and China, do you think the UK's gonna have to choose basically?

Ambassador: We want to have good relations with both the UK and the US. I trust that the UK will make its decision independently, in the UK's national interest and in the interest of UK-China cooperation.

Boulton: There is a sort of ideological divide. China has a one-party state, fairly authoritarian. We have a western tradition of democracy. In the end, it would seem that those may be strained.

Ambassador: China has been around for 5,000 years. We have had different systems. In the past 70 years, the Communist Party led China's revolution and established the People's Republic. I think there have always been differences, but these differences have not prevented our countries from working for the common good. I can not say that we have a one-party system. In China, we have eight democratic parties. Of course the country is led by the Communist Party of China, just like the UK is led by the Conservative Party. We have a Chinese democracy, or democracy of Chinese characteristics. We have a different way to elect our leaders. But we need to respect each other.

Boulton: Yeah, if you take for example tech or communications, China has used tech for surveillance of its citizens. Therefore, should Huawei be allowed to gain a significant foothold in our 5G system here?

Ambassador: I don't think the Chinese government use tech for surveillance of its citizens. Here in the UK, you have a lot of CCTV. For us, it is for the security of the country to prevent terrorist attacks and so on.

Huawei is a good company. They have been here for 18 years, and they have made their contribution to the telecom industries in this country. They are the leader in 5G technology. I do hope that the UK will keep Huawei for the benefit...

Boulton: What would be the consequences if the new prime minister did not admit Huawei?

Ambassador: I think this would send a bad signal, a negative signal, not only to Huawei but to Chinese businesses. The UK is regarded as the most open, most business-friendly. That's why in the past 5 years, you have seen a soaring of Chinese investment here. In the past 10 years, Chinese investment here tripled. If the door is shut on Huawei, it will send a very negative message.

Boulton: Have you had any representations from the British government about the situation in Hong Kong?

Ambassador: We do have a talk. They expressed their concerns. We explained to them why the decision is legitimate and necessary. And why we support the Hong Kong government in their decision, both to start the amendments and also to suspend the decision. We also expressed our concern that some foreign countries try to use this to interfere into the internal affairs of Hong Kong. We told the British government that Hong Kong is entirely an internal affair of the Chinese.

Boulton: These are extraordinary scenes of civil disobedience. People are talking about a quarter of the Hong Kong population taking to the streets. How do you think that this situation is going to be resolved? Would, for example, the removal of Carrie Lam be the answer?

Ambassador: Most British media focus on the people on the street, the demonstrators. They forgot that there are 800,000 people signing up to support the Hong Kong government to amend the Ordinance. When they sent out the amendment to solicit opinions, they got 4,500 replies, and 3,000 of them support the amendment. Only 1,500 made their observations opposing it. I do hope things will calm down. We have full trust in Hong Kong SAR government in resolving this matter. The SAR government has decided to suspend the amendment and they want more time to listen to the people. I hope the people will respond positively to Carrie Lam and her administration.

Boulton: Lord Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong said this is a clear breach of the agreements that were reached at the time of the handover.

Ambassador: We don't think so. I think it is just the opposite. I think the decision to amend the ordnance is just for the purpose of making Hong Kong a better place and not a safe haven for fugitive criminals.

Boulton: What do you think of Boris Johnson?

Ambassador: I know him very well. When he was Mayor of London, he did a great job to promote business relations between Chinese cities and London. When he was foreign secretary, he visited China on several occasions. I wish best luck to both candidates. We also know Jeremy Hunt very well.

Boulton: Ambassador, thank you for joining us.

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