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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Gives Exclusive Live Interview on BBC Newsnight

On October 4th, H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming gave an exclusive live interview on BBC Newsnight hosted by Kirsty Wark to explain China's position on the situation in Hong Kong and the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation. The full text is as follows.

Wark: I'm now indeed joined by the Chinese Ambassador, Liu Xiaoming. Thank you very much for coming in, Ambassador. First of all, real escalation tonight. More people wear face masks. Are you shocked at the defiance?

Ambassador: No, not at all. I think the ban is timely and necessary. The purpose of this face mask ban is to stop the violence, to restore order, and to deter further violence.

Wark: But it hasn't worked tonight.

Ambassador: It’s still too early to tell. You know it's just a few hours. We will see. You know, it’s too early to tell the result of this ban. I think the Special Administrative Region Government is determined to stop violence and restore order.

Wark: It hasn’t been able to restore order so far. And the ban has had, it seems, it has had the impact of saying to people, you know, we're not going to stand for this. We are gonna come out. We're gonna wear a face mask. We are not going to be told what to do.

Ambassador: I think you really need to separate peaceful demonstrators from die-hard radicals. I think the Special Administrative Region Government decided to introduce the ban because the situation has escalated to a dangerous level. So, according to the Chief Executive, it's time to introduce a ban.

Wark: Has Carrie Lam lost control?

Ambassador: I don't think so. I think the situation is still under control and we have full confidence.

Wark: It doesn’t look like under control.

Ambassador: If she lost control, how could she try to introduce this ban?

Wark: But the problem is that the police are firing live rounds. A young boy had , you know, a shot in the leg. So we've seen shooting before. This is not the look of an authority in control.

Ambassador: The reason why police shot is because their lives are in serious threat. Let us see how your British police handled the situation. I quote, according to Simon Chesterman, Chief Constable of the British police, “Armed police officers are highly trained to shoot to neutralise the threat in order to protect the public, their colleagues or themselves.”

Wark: But the public themselves are on the streets. Do you still have full confidence in Carrie Lam?

Ambassador: Yes, I can say that in a very resolute term.

Wark: You heard Gabriel Gatehouse saying there, and the Reuters reported that the People's Armed Police have already had 3,000 to 5,000 paramilitary police and now it’s between 10-12,000. Is that correct? And will you keep putting more paramilitaries in if you don’t think Carrie Lam can deal with this?

Ambassador: We certainly hope the situation would improve, but we have to prepare for the worst. As I said during my press conference: If the situation in Hong Kong becomes uncontrollable for the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Central Government will not sit on their hands and watch. I still stand by my statement.

Wark: But what will you do? The Reuters report says there are 10-12,000 paramilitaries in just now. That's a doubling of what there was. Can you confirm that, first of all?

Ambassador: I would say, the thing I can confirm is the situation is still under control, and we have full trust in the Hong Kong SAR Government and its Chief Executive.

Wark: But you say that there will come a point -- you know, if over this weekend, there are more demonstrations in the thousands and thousands in the street – there’ll come a point where your Government really needs to make a decision.

Ambassador: I think you need to give time to Chief Executive to implement the ban.

Wark: But will you put more troops if you have to?

Ambassador: If the situation becomes uncontrollable, we certainly would not sit on our hands and watch. Just as the Chief Executive said, her Administration would not allow the situation to get worse and worse.

Wark: You cannot lock up the whole of Hong Kong.

Ambassador: I have confidence in the Hong Kong SAR Government. I believe this ban will help to improve the situation, and I hope the majority of Hong Kong people will respond to the efforts made by the Special Administration Region and communicate with them.

Wark: But it's been going on all summer. How long will you get it? If Carrie Lam is still, at Christmas, battling protesters, are you not going to do something about that?

Ambassador: If you compare the situation now with the situation a few months ago, I think things improved somewhat after Carrie Lam withdrew the bill. I think, the problem with the British media, and Western media as a whole, is that you only focus on the rioters and only focus on the violence.

Wark: We are focusing on what we see on the streets. And I wonder if Carrie Lam will have your backing if she has to withdraw this ban in order to restore peace?

Ambassador: I think she will be determined to implement the ban. And we certainly respect Carrie Lam and her Administration, and we understand her decision, and we show our support for her decision. And we have full trust in her Administration to handle the situation.

Wark: Ambassador, you hear Hong Kongers say they feel they're fighting for their lives, because when they look at the way that you are dealing with the Uygurs on the mainland, the re-education camps, or whatever, and they think this is what lies ahead for them.

Ambassador: I think this is a made-up story by your media.

Wark: How is it made up?

Ambassador: What you are talking about is the vocational training and education centre in Xinjiang. That is for the prevention of terrorism. Since this measure was introduced in Xinjiang, there has been no single terrorist case in the past three years. And before that, for twenty years, there were thousands of terrorist activities. We haven't seen any coverage by BBC or any Western media. Where are you?! Where are you then? Tell me!

Wark: Ambassador, as you said, you put in anti-terrorist forces to deal with Uygurs. These paramilitaries that are in Hong Kong are of the same stripe.

Ambassador: Not in Hong Kong. You mixed up things. They are inside in China. In Hong Kong, it is the Hong Kong police that’s handling the situation.

Wark: But we know that there are paramilitaries in Hong Kong at the moment. And according to Reuters, they are increasing.

Ambassador: No!Not at all.

Wark: So, my point is that people fear for their lives. They feel this is the only alternative they have. Because what they want is: they want Carrie Lam gone, they want an inquiry into the police brutality, and they also want universal suffrage. Are they ever going to get universal suffrage?

Ambassador: The Central Government has reaffirmed our commitment to “One Country, Two Systems”. President Xi Jinping repeated this commitment on the eve of Chinese National Day that we are committed to “One Country, Two Systems”, let Hong Kong people administer Hong Kong, and Hong Kong will continue to enjoy high degree of autonomy. That's a very firm commitment.

Wark: So did you have a commitment that the mainland Chinese Government will never step in and take over Hong Kong ever?

Ambassador: That commitment has been made for fifty years and the policy will remain for fifty years and we are committed to it.

Wark: Thank you very much, Ambassador.

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