Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 August 2020

Beijing-London relations ‘poisoned’ over Hong Kong dispute, says Chinese diplomat

China's ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming said UK was interfering in the affairs of its former colony

Liu Xiaoming said China had always respected UK sovereignty. Reuters
Liu Xiaoming said China had always respected UK sovereignty. Reuters

Britain has poisoned relations with China and will pay a price if it treats Beijing with hostility, the Chinese ambassador to London warned on Thursday.

Liu Xiaoming criticised the UK’s alleged interference in its former colony of Hong Kong and said that Britain’s vision of global trade after Brexit would not be realised if China was excluded.

Mr Liu told reporters that “decoupling from China means decoupling from opportunities, decoupling from growth and decoupling from the future”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has banned Chinese company Huawei’s participation in the 5G mobile network – after US pressure – because of security concerns and criticised the mistreatment of the Uighur ethnic minority in China’s Xinjiang province.

The British government has also suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong after China introduced a security law there that detractors say would limit freedom of speech and reduce territory's autonomy. China says the legislation is needed to keep Hong Kong safe.

The UK has also set out how nearly three million residents of Hong Kong already eligible for British Overseas passports could apply for an expanded visa and eventually gain full British citizenship.

"These actions have seriously poisoned the atmosphere of the China-UK relationship," 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."

Mr Liu insisted his comments were not threats but simply an explanation of what the consequences could be of an uneasy relationship.

“If you do not want to be our partners and our friends – you want to treat China as a hostile country – you will pay the price.

"That means you will lose the benefits of treating China as opportunities, as friends. And you will bear the consequences of treating China as a hostile country."

Mr Liu also strongly hinted at the pressure the UK is under from US President Donald Trump, who has urged Western allies to move away from China.

"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,” Mr Liu said.

Tensions have also ratcheted up after the removal of 12 pro-democracy candidates for the coming Hong Kong elections, who authorities said were not fit to stand.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the move. “It is clear they have been disqualified because of their political views.”

Updated: July 30, 2020 08:38 PM

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