China today accused Downing Street of ‘dancing to America’s tune’ after Huawei was banned from the UK’s 5G network as Beijing also warned imposing sanctions on officials over human rights abuses would be met with a ‘resolute response’.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, said excluding the Chinese tech giant from the infrastructure represented a ‘dark day’ for Britain.
He said Beijing is ‘still evaluating the consequences’ of the decision amid claims British firms operating in China have been told ‘retaliation is coming’ and they could be ‘in the firing line’.
Meanwhile, Mr Liu hit back over ‘false accusations’ of Chinese human rights abuses as he was confronted with video footage of Uighur people being detained and forced onto a train in Xinjiang province.
The UK Government is under growing pressure to impose sanctions on any Chinese government officials involved in any such action.
Mr Liu said it would be ‘wholly wrong’ for the UK to impose sanctions as he warned against engaging in a ‘tit for tat’ diplomatic battle.
But Dominic Raab said this morning it is clear that ‘gross, egregious human rights abuses’ are being perpetrated against the Uighur people in northern China.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Secretary also said he will deliver a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow setting out the Government’s latest response to Beijing imposing a controversial national security law on Hong Kong.
Mr Raab has already offered a route to citizenship for to up to three million Hong Kongers with British National (Overseas) status.
And tomorrow he will announce the conclusion of a review into whether the UK will suspend extradition arrangements with Hong Kong.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s Ambassador to the UK, said the decision to ban Huawei from the UK’s 5G network represented a ‘dark day’ as he also dismissed accusations made against the Chinese government of human rights abuses
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said it is ‘clear that there are gross, egregious human rights abuses going on’ in northern China
Relations between China and Britain are increasingly strained, with the two nations having repeatedly clashed in recent months over coronavirus, Hong Kong, Huawei and accusations of human rights abuses.
The UK Government announced last week that Huawei will be banned from the 5G network because of national security concerns with all of the Chinese tech giant’s equipment to be stripped out by the end of 2027.
The decision to exclude the firm from the network prompted a furious response from Beijing while suggestions of the UK potentially imposing sanctions on Chinese government officials has further increased tensions.
Mr Liu told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show it would be ‘wholly wrong’ to impose sanctions as he suggested the UK’s approach to China was actually being directed by the White House.
He said: ‘We never believed in unilateral sanctions. We believe that the UN has the authority to impose sanctions and if the UK Government goes that far to impose sanctions on any individuals in China, China will certainly make a resolute response to it.
‘You have seen what happened between China and the United States. They sanctioned Chinese officials, we sanctioned their senators, their officials.
‘I do not want to see this tit for tat between China and the US happen in China and UK relations.
‘I think the UK should have its own independent foreign policy rather than to dance to the tune of Americans like what happened to Huawei.’
Mr Liu said the Huawei decision was ‘very bad’ and meant the UK had ‘missed the opportunity to be a leading country’. ‘We are still evaluating the consequences,’ the ambassador said.
During his interview Mr Liu was confronted with video footage which has been widely circulated online in recent days which experts believe shows Uighur people in China being detained and forced onto a train to be taken away.
Mr Liu rejected the accusations of human rights abuses as he said: ‘Let me tell you this: The so-called Western intelligence keep making this false accusation against China.’
But Mr Raab, appearing on the same programme, said the UK was in no doubt that human rights abuses were taking place.
‘It is clear that there are gross, egregious human rights abuses going on,’ he said.
‘We are working with our international partners on this. It is deeply, deeply troubling.
‘The reports of the human aspect of it – from forced sterilisation to the education camps – are reminiscent of something we have not seen for a long, long time.
The UK has banned Huawei from the 5G network with all of the firm’s equipment to be stripped out by the end of 2027 over security concerns
‘This from a leading member of the international community that wants to be taken seriously and in fact who we want a positive relationship with. But we cannot see behaviour like that and not call it out.’
Mr Raab said there ‘won’t be business as usual’ with China moving forward. He insisted the UK will not be ‘slipping into some outdated, dogmatic approach’ but will be ‘very careful in our dealings’ with Beijing.
The comments came after it emerged the leaders of UK businesses in Beijing had been summoned to a meeting where they were apparently told by a Chinese government official that their operations could suffer because of growing tensions with Britain.
A source told the Sunday Times: ‘The message was that retaliation is coming and that British firms in China are in the firing line.’
It is thought some of the UK’s biggest companies on the world stage like Jaguar Land Rover, BP and GlaxoSmithKline could all be targeted.