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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Holds a Press Conference on the Question of Hong Kong
Chinese Embassy, 3 July 2019

On 3rd July 2019, H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming held a press conference at the Chinese Embassy on the violent attack against the Legislative Council complex of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. More than 40 journalists from 25 media agencies attended the press conference, including Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Economist, Guardian, Reuters, BBC, Radio 4, ITV, Sky News and Channel 4 of the UK, China’s Xinhua News Agency, CCTV, China News Service, CGTN, China Radio International, China Daily, Economic Daily, Science and Technology Daily, Guangming Daily, and Global Times, as well as CNN, Phoenix Infonews, European Times, and UK Chinese Times. The following is the transcript of the press conference.

Ambassador: July 1st is a day of celebration and festivity for the people of Hong Kong from all walks of life to commemorate the return of Hong Kong and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HONG KONG SAR). However, on this very day, some ultra-radicals stormed the Hong Kong Legislative Council complex in an extremely violent manner and wantonly damaged facilities inside. Such action has broken the boundaries to freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration, trampled on the rule of law in Hong Kong, undermined social order, compromised the fundamental interests of Hong Kong and challenged the bottom line of "one country, two systems". We strongly condemn such action. The Hong Kong SAR government will press criminal charges against the violent offenders in accordance with the law, and the Chinese Central Government firmly supports the Hong Kong SAR government in pursuing this serious case of offence and handling the incident in accordance with the law. We support the SAR government in restoring public order, protecting the personal and property safety of Hong Kong citizens and maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

It has to be pointed out that on this major issue of principle, the UK government chose to stand on the wrong side. It has made inappropriate remarks not only to interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong but also to back up the violent law breakers. It even attempted to obstruct Hong Kong SAR government from bringing the criminals to justice, which is an utter interference in Hong Kong’s rule of law. China has repeatedly lodged stern representations with the British side.

Here, I would like to reiterate that Hong Kong is China’s Special Administrative Region. It is not what it used to be under the British colonial rule. Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs which brook no interference from any country, organization or individual. We strongly condemn and oppose the gross interference in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs by the British side.

China’s resolution to safeguard sovereignty, national security and development interests is unwavering. Our resolve to uphold the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong is unwavering. Our rejection to foreign interference is unwavering. We urge the British side to seriously reflect on the consequences of its words and deeds and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs in whatever forms.

The world media, especially those here in the UK, have beening covering what happened in Hong Kong extensively. But to be frank, some reports are severely prejudiced and others are even ill-willed slander. I have received quite a number of requests for interview from different media institutions. So, today, I am holding this press conference in order to allow more media to get access to China’s stance on the basis of truth and facts with regard to Hong Kong.

Now, I would like to take your questions.

BBC: First of all, if I may, can you give us guarantee here today this afternoon that China remains committed to the Joint Declaration, an international treaty that China signed up to and remains in force until 2047?

And second, if I may, can you tell us what Beijing is going to do now? Are you gonna use the disruption of Monday to crack down on the larger, more peaceful demonstrations that may happen in the future?

Ambassador: What gives you such an idea that China is going to crackdown on peaceful demonstrations?

First of all, I think you have a completely wrong perception about China’s position. China’s commitment to “one country two systems” is unwavering. But I have to make it clear that this promise is made by the Chinese government to the world. It is a unilateral declaration by the Chinese government, not to the British government. And it is incorporated in the Basic Law. It is China’s constant position that the basic system in Hong Kong will remain unchanged for fifty years after 1997. With regard to the Joint Declaration between China and Britain, it has completed its mission. According to this document, British government should restore Hong Kong to China, and China will resume its sovereignty over Hong Kong, and British government will be responsible for the administration during the transition period from 1984 to 1997. That is what is stipulated in the Joint Declaration. Once Hong Kong was returned to China, the British government will have no right to claim from the Joint Declaration. So I encourage you to read the Joint Declaration.

BBC: I have it in front of me. It says very specifically in Point 12 that the basic policies of People’s Republic of China regarding HONG KONG… they will remain unchanged for fifty years. It is specifically said - it is not just talking about the Basic Law, but also about the Joint Declaration itself.

Ambassador: No, it talks about One country Two systems that will remain unchanged for 50 years, not the Joint Declaration. I hope you will be careful with the words. In the Joint Declaration, we cannot find any clause or articles that give the British government any right to interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong, or give them right whatsoever to “supervise”, so-called, the implementation of One Country Two Systems.

There is no indication that the central government will, as you described, “crack down” on the demonstrations. We have full trust in the Hong Kong SAR government to handle this case, even this very serious violent case. We have full trust in the Hong Kong SAR government to bring the criminals and law breakers to justice in accordance with the law.

ITV: Because of the British government’s interference, as you put it, are you now calling for an apology from the British government?

Ambassador: We made a strong representation with the British side. We call on them to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Hong Kong and China’s internal affairs. I hope the British side will refrain from doing further damage to the relationship.

Reuters: Reuters spoke to Boris Johnson today and he told us that people in Hong Kong were perfectly within their rights to be very skeptical, very anxious about the extradition bill, and he will back them every inch of the way. And he would stress to Beijing that One Country Two Systems approach worked. What do you have to say to him with his line there? Given that it is him or Jeremy Hunt running to be the next Prime Minister, do you think relations under the next prime minister between China and Britain are getting worse rather than better?

Ambassador: We certainly hope that whoever will be the next British Prime Minister will follow what is agreed by the two governments with regard to the relationship. The fundamentals are that we respect sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other. So long as the British government, so long as the new prime minister will follow these principles, I don’t see there is any problem in the relationship. As long as these principles are violated, there will be problems between our two countries.

Channel 4: When do you think the extradition bill will pass?

Ambassador: I think the Hong Kong SAR government already said it has suspended the extradition bill. I think the Chief Executive made it very clear that they have no timetable for the current legislative council. The current legislative council’s term will expire by July 2020. In that case, she already indicated there would be no further actions on the extradition bill before July 2020. So we show respect and understanding, and support her decision. We are behind the Hong Kong SAR government.

Channel 4: Would you expect the bill to be suspended or do you expect it to never return?

Ambassador: It’s up to Hong Kong SAR government to decide. It’s also up to how Hong Kong SAR government will communicate with Hong Kong public, to engage with the public, to let them know the rationale: Why this bill serves the interests of Hong Kong, why Hong Kong will be a better place by having this bill, why Hong Kong should not continue to be a heaven for fugitive offenders, and Hong Kong should be a haven for justice. I hope they will be successful in communicating with the Hong Kong people.

Sky News: You call the people that raided the Legislative Chamber ultra radicals. Do you see their act as an act of terrorism? Also, you said that you hoped that the British government would refrain from further interference which could further damage the relationship. Has the British government’s action so far with regard to the incidents in Hong Kong already damaged the relations between China and Britain? And finally, if I may, what do you say to the people, the conspiracy theorists, that there are agents provocateurs amongst these radicals, that are actually pro-China, whipping up the violent action because it gives you justification for crackdowns?

Ambassador: First, I would not characterize ultra radicals. It is up to Hong Kong court to decide what they are. They certainly vandalized the facilities in the legislative council. They should be responsible for what they did by breaking the law in Hong Kong. And also I think the relationship in a way has been damaged by interference of the British government. As I said the fundamental principles guiding our two countries are mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. If the British government goes further, it will cause further damage. That is why I am calling on the British government to reflect on the consequences of its words and deeds with regard to Hong Kong. I do hope that the British government would realize the consequences and would refrain from further interference, from further damaging the relationship.

Sky News: What about the agents provocateurs? It is just a rumour among some of the people out there saying that there are pro-China activists at play in the crowds. They are actually behind the violent side of the protest. Is that true?

Ambassador: First of all, I would not comment on rumours. Secondly, according to what has been explained by the Hong Kong police commissioner, they are actual radicals with the aim to disrupt the social order of Hong Kong. They are law-breakers.

CGTN: The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has stressed UK’s support for Hong Kong’s freedom. As we all know, when Hong Kong was under British rule, they didn’t have any form of democracy, including general election. So why do you think that UK is so concerned about Hong Kong’s democracy now? My second question is about G20. We know that many people believe that the achievement of the Osaka G20 Summit is lackluster except for China-US leader’s meeting on trade talks. So what’s your comment on that?

Ambassador: I think it’s totally wrong for Jeremy Hunt to talk about the freedom. This is not a matter of freedom. It’s a matter about breaking laws in Hong Kong. It was very disappointing for a senior official of his caliber to show support for these law-breaking people. We all remember what Hong Kong was 22 years ago under British rule. There was no freedom, democracy whatever. We all know that all governors were appointed by the British government; People had no right to elect its officials, no right to demonstrate certainly, and they did not even have the right to independent judicial power. The final adjudication power rested with the Privy Council here in London. But now, everyone without bias would realize how much democracy and freedom the Hong Kong people have now comparing with 22 years ago before the handover. Now Hong Kong has its own Chief Executive, elected by the Election Committee of Hong Kong people. And they have enormous enthusiasm for political participation. And the National People’s Congress agreed to universal suffrage, one person one vote, to elect their Chief Executive, but unfortunately, it was not passed by the Legislative Council in 2015. And Hong Kong people enjoy high degree of autonomy. They run their own affairs. And now they not only have legislative, executive and independent judicial power, they even have final adjudication in Hong Kong. So it’s quite a contrast comparing Hong Kong today with what Hong Kong was 22 years ago. So I think it’s very hypocritical for British politicians to talk about the freedom in Hong Kong. When the rule of law was damaged by the law breakers in Hong Kong, instead of condemning this, they show support and sympathy to these law breakers. I feel very disappointed at their statement.

Phoenix TV: What’s your expectation for the new prime minister of UK about his stance on Hong Kong issue, because Boris Johnson had some comments on this today? Do you think (there will be) any consequences out of that? Will that affect Sino-British cooperation in the future?

Ambassador: As I said earlier, we hope that the British government will carry out its commitment to the basic principles enshrined in the joint agreement of establishment of the diplomatic relations -- the basic norms governing the relationship between China and the UK -- and refrain from interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and China’s internal affairs, and work with us for common good. I think China and the UK have enormous potentials and opportunities to work together for the common good and for the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. Hong Kong, before 1984, was a problem, a stumbling block between China and the UK. Since we reached the Joint Declaration, especially since Hong Kong returned to China, Hong Kong is no longer a problem between China and the UK. And instead, it is playing the role of a bridge between China and the UK, and has become a positive factor in the relationship. I hope Hong Kong will continue to play this role, rather than become, again, a problem in China-UK relations.

China Daily: Some people say the Western media reports on the Hong Kong protests are quite prejudiced. What do you think of media’s role on this issue of Hong Kong? My second question is G20, some people say that G20 is not as strong as 10 years ago during the global (financial) crisis. What do you think of G20’s future?

Ambassador: I will comment on your question about Hong Kong and come back to your question with regard to the G20. I think we all watched the media reporting here. It is not balanced. They focus on the demonstrations. They even showed some sympathy to these ultra radicals. I have been on BBC and Sky News. I presented the other side of the story of what I call the “silent majority” that has been ignored totally by the media here. About 800,000 people signed up to support the amendment of the ordnance. When Hong Kong SAR government sent out letters to solicit opinion, they sent out 4,500 and received 3,000 in support of the amendment. Only 1,500 showed opposition. But about this we cannot get a single glimpse on any media here. So it is very unbalanced. It is not convincing. I do hope that the British media here should do justice to the British readers, and present a balanced picture. After what happened on 1st of July, the media here kept interviewing the pro-demonstrators. They ignored the strong resentment and opposition by the other side. And we saw the legislators voicing their strong opposition, strong resentment, to these violent actions which hurt the interests of Hong Kong. Yet here we cannot see any report at all.

Channel 4: The Joint Declaration, as you know, an international treaty legally binding, promises to protect rights and freedoms of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and of religious belief. Can you promise that all those rights and freedoms are one hundred percent intact now as they were at the handover?

Ambassador: One hundred percent protected and even better if you compare the rights enjoyed today with what it was.

Channel 4: What about the imprisonment of Joshua Wong or the closure of Causeway Bay book shop, just to cite two examples?

Ambassador: In a society governed by rule of law, people were prosecuted in accordance with the law. Freedom of expression does not mean that you can do whatever you like. If you break the law, you have to pay the price. Hong Kong is run by rule of law. When you look into the specific cases, you should read carefully what law they have broken.

Reuters: We spoke a bit about the two candidates who seek to replace Teresa May. Both look like they might move towards a tougher line on Huawei and its involvement in 5G networks in Britain. What is your response if the next British government moves to an outright ban on Huawei?

Ambassador: I think it is still too early to say what kind of position they are going to take. What you are saying is a kind of guessing. But we have to prepare for all the consequences. I have to say, Huawei is here not only for their own interests. it is for win-win. To lose Huawei, you will miss a lot of opportunities. I think they are here for win-win results. They made enormous contribution not only to the telecom industries here in this country, but also in terms of corporate responsibilities. They created more than 10,000 jobs. They invested a great deal, with a procurement of more than 2 billion pounds. They set up a joint research centre. They believe they can grow with the British colleagues. What is more significant is that they are open and transparent. They set up their own Cyber Security Evaluation Centre Oversight Board manned completely by British people. They let the British people check their products. There aren’t any secrets. No so-called backdoor. They are very open. I doubt you can find a better company than Huawei in terms of 5G development. I usually caution my British friends that you should treasure these opportunities. To lose Huawei, you will lose a lot of opportunities. And you will send out very bad and negative signals, not only to Huawei but also to Chinese businesses, or maybe even to the world.

Xinhua News Agency: Ambassador, I am from Xinhua. My question is about China-US trade tension. Some would say that the meeting during the G20 Summit between President Xi Jinping and President Trump was quite limited, and the suspension of tension is temporary. And some say the tension in China and US trade relationship is still there and would escalate again. What is you view on that?And what’s the prospect of the China-US trade negotiation?

Ambassador: I think the meeting between President Xi and President Trump is of great importance. I think the G20 Summit in Osaka will be remembered for this very important meeting. What is more important is the direction set by President Xi. President Xi summed up the lessons of the 40 years of China-US relations. He pointed out that China and the US stand to gain from cooperation, and will lose from confrontation. So cooperation and dialogue are better than confrontation and friction. And this has also been agreed by President Trump. So the fundamental direction set by President Xi is very important to guide the long term relationship in the future. And secondly, the two sides announced the restart of trade talks on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. It’s very significant. The US side agrees that it will not add new tariffs on Chinese goods. So this important agreement sent out a very positive signal to the international community and the global market. We do hope that the teams from both countries will carry on and implement the agreement reached by the two Heads of State. I feel optimistic about the future of the relationship and I feel optimistic about the trade talks between China and the US!

CCTV: I’m from China CCTV. We all noticed that some of the British officials expressed their deep concern and even made comments on Hong Kong. Why do they still hold strong opinions to China affairs after 22 years since Hong Kong returned to China 1997? And also some interviewees who spoke to Channel 4 last night wanted more voices from Mr. Hunt. What is your comment?

Ambassador: I think I already covered this. The Foreign Secretary’s statement on Hong Kong is totally wrong. The British side should place itself in the proper place with regard to Hong Kong. On the mind of some of the people, they still regard Hong Kong as under British rule and they forget the fundamentals. We talked about the Joint Declaration. Hong Kong has now returned to the embrace of the motherland. It is a special administrative region of China. It’s not part of the UK. I would call to them: Hands off Hong Kong, show respect for what has been achieved in Hong Kong under “one country, two systems”. I think if they properly set their position and approach Hong Kong issue with objective perspectives, things will be easier for the two countries to talk about Hong Kong. Fundamentally, this colonial mindset is still haunting some officials or politicians. So I do hope they regard Hong Kong as part of China and regard Hong Kong’s business as non British business. We would like to talk with them. According to the agreement between our two countries, we have no problem for British side to maintain relations with Hong Kong, economic, cultural and trade relations. As I said, I do hope that Hong Kong will continue to play the role of a bridge and to be a positive factor in the relationship other than a negative factor.

Daily Telegraph: You said that the UK government should be mindful of the consequences of their words and deeds. Exactly what consequences you are talking about? Is China considering some sort of retaliatory actions if the UK continues down this path? And secondly, does the withdrawal of the bill mean that they recognize those people demonstrating in Hong Kong do have their points that this bill does undermine the commitments of the “one country two system” settlement?

Ambassador: It already has consequences. The mutual trust has been weakened. We made several representations with the British side. It hurts the amicable atmosphere of the relationship. You know, we just had a very senior, high level visit by Chinese Vice Premier who was here to co-chair with Chancellor Hammond the 10th Economic Financial Dialogue. The outcomes have been great, including London Shanghai stock connect. I happened to be the one who signed an agreement on behalf of the Chinese government which lifted the ban on British beef. That means it won’t be long before the Angus beef and Welsh black beef are to be served on the table of Chinese consumers. But to have good relationship, you need to build mutual trust and you need to follow the basic principles. I think this inappropriate comment by British politicians really hurt the relationship. I do hope that the British side will treasure the hard won relationship and we should move together in the common interests of the people of our two countries. The extradition bill, as I said, has a good point. There is a necessity and it has been done through normal and legal process. But there are some pitfalls to be improved, and I think that the Hong Kong SAR government has realized that. They need to do more communications with the public. It doesn’t mean that the rationale is wrong. It doesn’t mean that the bill is not a good bill. So I do hope that the Hong Kong SAR government will have more communications and dialogues, be engaged more actively with the public and listen to their opinions to improve the process.

ITV: President Xi strongly believes in the need to maintain the order and keep the country together. If the security deteriorates in Hong Kong, would the Chinese military be brought in as the last resort?

Ambassador: The Chinese military in Hong Kong is for the defence of the country. According to the basic law, the central government is responsible for foreign affairs and defence affairs. It is to protect Hong Kong from outside enemies, foreign enemies. As I said, we have full trust in Hong Kong SAR government. We believe and we have confidence that they will handle this case according to law. Hong Kong police is very professional, and we also have full trust in them.

ITV: If they don’t?

Ambassador: We have full trust. Why don’t they? I have confidence that they could handle this properly.

Sky News: You criticize the British media over what you say is their imbalanced reporting over Hong Kong issue. But in China, in the mainland, do they have full access to all the images of the demonstrations from the very beginning? And secondly, with regards to British comments, it seems that China is very angry with the way that the British government has responded to the protest, but in the UK there has been criticism that the British government is too weak in their response, they are too restrained, and there hasn’t been specific support for the violent action. There’s only been support for the right to peacefully protest. So what exactly do you have a problem with with regard to British comments?

Ambassador: First, about the media reporting of the incident in China. I think there might be some big difference between the Chinese media -- we do have some of the Chinese media here -- and the British media. I think the Chinese media believe they have the social responsibility to serve the interests of the people. When the people saw what is happening in Hong Kong, they don’t want to provide a platform for those anti-China elements, or spread the so-called anti-propaganda against China. They don’t spread rumors to help those anti-China elements.

And about the British media criticism of the British government, that is the problem of the British media. You really have to reflect on what you are calling for. So that is what I am saying: your social responsibility -- what serves the best interests of the UK. I know you have 300 thousand British citizens in Hong Kong. You certainly would like to see Hong Kong remain prosperous and stable. But what’s happening in Hong Kong now just does the opposite thing. You should take a deep breath and reflect on what will be the consequences. If those law breakers have their way, Hong Kong will be plunged into a lawless society. Will that serve the interests of Britain? Will that serve the interests of stability and prosperity? Will that serve the interests of the 300 thousand British citizens in Hong Kong? The answer is definitely NO. So I do hope British media could reflect on what is in the best interests of Hong Kong and the best interests, national interests of Britain.

BBC: Just think about your last comment. You seem to be making no distinction between the hundreds of thousands of people who marched and demonstrated peacefully, and a much smaller group who engaged in violence. Do you not make distinctions between these two?

Ambassador: I do have a distinction. I think we could go back to my interview with BBC and Sky News. I said, to start with it was peaceful demonstration, but later on it became ugly. There was attack on the police with toxic powder. Nobody knows what it was. That was why the police evacuated the legislative council in order to avoid further injuries of police officers. There are also concerns about people trampled. That’s what happened later on. So I do have a distinction.

But the problem was that the British politicians make no distinctions. From the very start they supported the demonstrators, and to the very end they supported and even called the violent elements “very brave”. I hate to quote their comments. They even urged the Hong Kong SAR government not to use the violent incident as a “pretext for repression” -- basically they are trying to obstruct the legal process in Hong Kong. Even back in China we leave the Hong Kong SAR government to handle this case in accordance with law in Hong Kong. I do hope that those British politicians would make no comment again on the legal process of how the Hong Kong SAR government will pursue this case, with regard to how the government will bring those law offenders to justice. I hope they would respect the independent judicial power of Hong Kong, and that was what the British government has been calling for all along. I hope they would not adopt double standards in this case.

Ambassador: I think I should come back to the questions that the two journalists asked about G20. I think the latest G20 summit was a success. President Xi made a very important statement on the summit, and he pointed out the direction about how the world should respond to unilateralism and protectionism. President Xi proposed that we need to persist in reform and innovation to find more impetus for high quality growth. He also proposed that we need to progress with the times to improve global governance and promote the reform of international financial system. And all these have been welcomed by the international communities. So I think G20 sent out a very positive message to the world. I regard the G20 as a success.

With regard to the future of G20, I think President Xi also made his contributions to further strengthening the mechanism of G20. G20 was born as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. It functioned to coordinate and to strengthen the cooperation between countries. President Xi also made his contribution to further strengthen G20. We believe G20 still have a bright future. President Xi insists on placing development at the core of the G20 agenda. There is no doubt that this outcome sent out a positive message to the outside world. We believe G20 still has vitality and will serve the interests of countries around the world.

Thank you.

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