Interview with Liu Xiaoming, Chinese Ambassador to the UK: Whether the Sino-British "Golden Era" can continue depends largely on the British side
[Global Times reporter Bai Yunyi Chen Qingqing] Since the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law, the United Kingdom has continued to intervene in domestic affairs, from the suspension of the arrangement agreement for the transfer of fugitive offenders signed with Hong Kong to the announcement of naturalization for Hong Kong citizens holding British National (Overseas) passports. Channels, Sino-British relations have been turbulent. In view of these circumstances and the earlier British official decision to "block" Huawei, many analysts believe that there has been a "turn" in Britain's China policy. How should we view the current state of China-UK relations? How will China counter the British political manipulation? How can the "knot" between the two countries be resolved? "Global Times" reporter recently interviewed Liu Xiaoming, Chinese Ambassador to the UK.
"Britain has no sovereignty, governance, or supervision over Hong Kong after the return"
Global Times: The United Kingdom recently announced the adjustment of the British National (Overseas) Passport (BNO) policy to provide naturalization channels for Hong Kong citizens holding BNO passports. As a countermeasure, will China consider canceling the acceptance of the Chinese nationality or Hong Kong residency of Hong Kong residents unilaterally arranged by the British government?
Liu Xiaoming: The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China clearly stated in the "Interpretation on Several Issues Concerning the Implementation of the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region" that all Hong Kong Chinese compatriots, regardless of whether they hold a BNO passport or not, are Chinese citizens. In fact, the British government passed the law as early as 1985 to establish the BNO status and refused to grant Hong Kong people the right of abode in the UK. Now it suddenly violated its promise and provided BNO passport holders with the so-called path to become British citizens. This is purely political manipulation. , The real purpose is to intervene in Hong Kong affairs and interfere with the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law.
We have repeatedly urged the British side to recognize the reality that Hong Kong has returned to China, immediately correct its mistakes and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any way. China will consider not recognizing the BNO passport as a valid travel document, and reserves the right to take further measures.
Global Times: What impact will the suspension of the extradition agreement between the UK and Hong Kong have on China (including Hong Kong)? Will it affect the pursuit of escaped persons?
Liu Xiaoming: The unilateral acts of the British side will inevitably damage the basis of judicial cooperation between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, damage the law enforcement cooperation and exchanges between the two sides, and will make the United Kingdom a "safe haven" for criminals wanted in Hong Kong to evade legal sanctions.
China firmly opposes the actions of the British side and reserves the right to take further measures. It is hoped that the British side will view the Hong Kong National Security Law objectively and correctly, immediately correct its mistakes, and take practical actions to create favorable conditions for the sustained and healthy development of China-UK relations.
Global Times: Some politicians claim that the Sino-British Joint Declaration is an “internationally binding agreement” filed with the United Nations Secretariat and cannot be unilaterally terminated, and the UK has the responsibility to supervise the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. What do you think of this argument?
Liu Xiaoming: This argument reflects ignorance of history. I want to emphasize the following facts to help them make up the basic lesson: The core of the Sino-British negotiations and the signing of the "Sino-British Joint Declaration" is that China resumes the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, and the "Sino-British Joint Declaration" regarding Hong Kong's basic policies and policies is China's unilateral policy. The declaration is not a commitment of China to the British side, nor is it a so-called international obligation.
After the return of Hong Kong, the legal basis for the Chinese government to govern Hong Kong is the Constitution and Hong Kong Basic Law, not the "Sino-British Joint Declaration." As China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, the rights and obligations related to the British side stipulated in the "Sino-British Joint Declaration" have all been fulfilled.
The "Sino-British Joint Declaration" has 1,137 words, 8 clauses, and 3 appendices. There is no word, any clause, or any appendix that entitles Britain to assume any responsibility for Hong Kong after the return of Hong Kong. Britain has no sovereignty, governance, or supervision over Hong Kong after its return. Therefore, the British side has no right to use the "Sino-British Joint Declaration" to make irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs and interfere in China's internal affairs.
It would be a big mistake if the insurgents in Hong Kong were allowed to build a "parliament in exile"
Global Times: According to British media reports, anti-China Hong Kong activist Luo Guancong and former employee of the British Consulate General in Hong Kong Zheng Wenjie are currently in the UK. They are planning to turn London into a base of activities for the Hong Kong opposition, and even propose to form a "Hong Kong Parliament in Exile" ". If the British government allows these actions, how will China respond?
Liu Xiaoming: If the United Kingdom allows these people to establish a so-called "parliament in exile," it will be a big mistake and will create new serious obstacles to Sino-British relations. Such an organization is an anti-China organization with the purpose of undermining "one country, two systems", splitting China, and promoting "Hong Kong independence." If Britain allowed these people to establish a so-called "parliament in exile," it would seriously violate the basic norms of international relations that respect national sovereignty and territorial integrity, severely undermine mutual trust between China and Britain, and severely undermine relations between the two countries.
I have repeatedly advised the British side not to go it alone, challenge China's sovereignty, and support anti-China forces. Otherwise, China will resolutely fight back.
Global Times: Britain and other countries have long regarded Hong Kong as an "independent political and economic entity." The Chinese Embassy in the UK has recently urged relevant British politicians to recognize the fact that "Hong Kong has returned to China." Why do these politicians have such a wrong perception?
Liu Xiaoming: The world today has entered the 21st century, but the thinking of politicians in some Western countries such as the United Kingdom is still stuck in the Cold War or even the colonial era.
On the Hong Kong issue, they are unwilling to acknowledge the reality that Hong Kong has returned to China. They call themselves so-called "supervisors" and are used to making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs. Recently, they have been hyping up the "China threat", treating China as a "hostile country" or "potentially hostile country", threatening to completely "decouple" from China, and even clamoring for a "new cold war" against China. Although these noises and noises cannot represent mainstream British public opinion, they have indeed created difficulties and disturbances in Sino-British relations.
In my opinion, there are two major deficits in the current British China policy, namely the "cognitive deficit" and the "trust deficit". This is a crux of the current Sino-British relations. China and Britain are different in history, culture, social systems, and development stages. It is inevitable that there will be differences. Strengthening contact and communication is the only way to eliminate the "deficit." Only by promoting mutual "linking" rather than clamoring for "decoupling" can China and the UK continue to enhance understanding, strengthen mutual trust, manage differences, and eliminate "deficit."
Global Times: Not long ago, the UK decided to ban Huawei from participating in the country's 5G construction. The outside world is very concerned about whether China will sanction HSBC, GlaxoSmithKline and other British companies operating in China as countermeasures?
Liu Xiaoming: Without any conclusive evidence, the British government banned Huawei's 5G equipment under the pretext of unnecessarily risks, which seriously undermined the mutual trust between China and Britain, severely weakened the confidence of Chinese companies in investing in the UK, and seriously affected the atmosphere of China-UK economic and trade cooperation. China will comprehensively and seriously evaluate this incident and take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.
China adheres to openness and mutually beneficial cooperation, opposes the politicization of economic issues, and is committed to providing foreign-funded enterprises with a fair, just, open, and non-discriminatory business environment. We resolutely oppose the wrong practices of certain countries that generalize the concept of national security, violate international trade rules, and exclude specific countries and specific enterprises.
Whether the "golden age" can continue depends largely on the British side
Global Times: Will the status of Shanghai-London Stock Connect and London as overseas RMB trading centers be affected?
Liu Xiaoming: In recent years, London has become the world's largest offshore RMB foreign exchange trading center and the second largest offshore RMB clearing center. The Shanghai-London Stock Connect is the first cooperative project to connect major capital markets between China and the West. These achievements are not only the embodiment of London's financial advantage, but also the support of the close relationship between China and Britain.
A stable bilateral relationship is the foundation and guarantee for the healthy development of China-UK financial cooperation. If the foundation is not strong, the ground will shake. It is hoped that the British side will seriously reflect on its recent words and deeds related to China and stop doing things that damage the foundation of Sino-British relations.
Global Times: The United States and Britain will sign a free trade agreement. What impact will it have on China-UK economic and trade relations? Is it necessary to reconsider the China-UK Free Trade Agreement after Brexit?
Liu Xiaoming: I don't think that the signing of the UK-US free trade agreement will have any impact on China-UK economic and trade relations. Sino-British trade and US-British trade have different development stages, different trade patterns, and different complementary advantages. China has the world's most comprehensive manufacturing capacity and a consumer goods market of 1.4 billion people. These are unique advantages that other countries cannot replace. The United Kingdom and China and the United States reached a separate free trade agreement, which is not only beneficial to the development of the United Kingdom, but also to the development of China and the United States. The two are not an either-or, and you win or lose.
Regarding the prospects of the China-UK Free Trade Agreement, I think to a certain extent it depends on the UK's China policy. In the "post-Brexit era" and "post-epidemic era", the United Kingdom cannot do without and without China in order to build a "global Britain". We hope that the UK will adhere to the principles of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect, eliminate external interference, and work with China to advance China-UK economic and trade relations in the new era.
Global Times: In your opinion, what is the role of the United States behind the recent "turn" of the UK's China policy? Do you think that the United Kingdom has "selected sides" in the Sino-US game?
Liu Xiaoming: In international exchanges, bilateral relations between countries can develop in parallel without contradiction. Individual countries insist on the Cold War mentality of zero-sum game, delimitation by ideology, engage in small circles, small groups, and force other countries to choose sides, which is destined to be unpopular.
China never asks other countries to choose sides between China and the United States. We want Britain to pursue an independent foreign policy, not "dancing with the United States." Only by adhering to an independent foreign policy can "Britain" be truly "Great Britain".
Global Times: Given the recent situation, do you think the "golden age" of China-UK relations is over? Still not over yet, but facing great challenges?
Liu Xiaoming: The "Golden Age" reflects the level of development of Sino-British relations and is in the interests of both countries. Therefore, we agree and support this initiative. However, the "golden age" should be based on mutual respect, equal treatment, and mutual benefit, especially mutual respect for each other's core interests and major concerns, and jointly abide by the basic norms of non-interference in international relations. Whether the "Golden Age" can continue depends largely on the British side.
We are saddened by the difficulties and setbacks in China-UK relations. At present, Sino-British relations are at an important juncture, and the British side should seriously reflect on its attitude and policy towards China. I have also repeatedly warned the British side: China is a partner of the UK, not an opponent, let alone an enemy; China's development is an opportunity, not a challenge, nor a threat.
A stable and healthy Sino-British relationship is not only beneficial to the two countries, but also to the world. I hope that the British side will return to an independent, rational and pragmatic policy toward China and not go further and further on the wrong road.