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HOME > Ambassador > Remarks > 2020
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Attends Sky News' Live Panel Discussion -- After the Pandemic: Our New World
2020-06-03 23:28

On June 1st, H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming attended the Live Panel Discussion hosted by Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News' special programme After the Pandemic: Our New World with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, David Miliband, former British foreign secretary and historian Niall Ferguson. The following is a transcript of the Q&A session with Ambassador Liu.

Murnaghan: Let's get the initial thoughts from our panalists on the opportunities and challenges facing our world today.

Ambassador Liu: I think there's a lot of debate these days about the consequences of this pandemic -- whether the pandemic will unite the world or make the world more divided. I tend to believe it makes the world more united. I think this pandemic really shows us again that we all belong to this global village. Just as President Xi said, we should all try to build this Community with a Shared Future for Mankind. I think this pandemic shows us that international community should cooperate. It shows that those countries who supported each other, who supported WHO in playing a leading role, who supported multilateralism and who listened to the advice of WHO have been able to put the virus under control. But those countries who rejected international corporation, who rejected WHO advice has paid a high price. I think no country, no matter how strong you are, you cannot be immune. You cannot be insulated from this pandemic. Viruses respect no borders, no races.

Murnaghan: When investigations are underway, the core question to China is: Does China accept its culpability and responsibilities during this crisis? Let me ask you straight up: Will you allow independent investigators onto Chinese soil to work out what happened?

Ambassador Liu: We certainly welcome international review. But the purpose is not to label any country. All the countries should be covered. Together with 120 member states during the World Health Assembly, we supported the international community to carry out a review of the pandemic at a proper time. The purpose is to sum up experience and get better prepared for future pandemics. And this review, firstly, should be independent, free from politicization. It should be based on science, that is let the scientists take the lead.

Murnaghan: Who do you accept leading it? Who would you like to oversee it?

Ambassador Liu: The WHO should lead this independent review. All countries should get involved, especially the major players. I found I have differences with Niall. He blamed China for slow reaction. That is not true. I think Niall got a lot of wrong information. He said during the lockdown, there was no flight coming out of Wuhan, but there were still many flights going to other countries. That is not true. That's false information. When Wuhan was locked down, starting from 23rd of January, there were no flights at all. No flights, no trains, not at all. With regard to how China reacted to this pandemic, China was the first country to report the virus to the WHO, first to identify the pathogen and first to share the genetic sequence with the WHO and other countries. China wasted no time in sharing information and experience in containing the virus.

Murnaghan: During the pandemic, there were hundreds of flights out of China as a whole, and the virus surely started circulating in the world like that. You've got to admit that, have you, before the world's gonna take you seriously?

Ambassador Liu: Your information is totally wrong. As I said earlier, when Wuhan went into lockdown, there was no flights at all, no connection with the outside world. I am sorry to hear so much cold-war rhetoric from Niall. We know each other before, but I do not know why he is so interested in having a cold war with China. I just want to let you know that China is not the former Soviet Union. You, being a historian, should have a serious study about China. I can provide you with more information and facts about that. We have a "Reality Checks" of 24 allegations and I will mail it to you. I just want to say that we should not talk down the role played by the WHO just because the WHO spoke positively about the efforts of China. The WHO is a very important international organization. It has 194 members.

Murnaghan: Let's talk about China's responsibilities. Undoubtedly, China was in denial about COVID-19 for so long, about animal to human transition and about human to human transition. You did not tell the world soon enough.

Ambassador Liu: As I told you, we lost no time in informing the WHO. This is a new virus, you have to be responsible. It was unknown to all of us. You need the scientists to study in a responsible way and seriously. When we identified the virus 11 days after the first report, then we immediately reported to the WHO and shared the information with relevant countries. There was no cover-up. There was no delay. China's record is clean. It can stand the test of time and history. What I am also saying is that China first reported the virus, but it does not mean the virus originated from China. In terms of the origin, I think it's up to the scientists to decide. As the situation unfolds, we hear reports that there are some cases in the United States, in Italy, that are much earlier than China. You know, we need to adopt a scientific approach about this matter.

Murnaghan: What about the question of reform of the World Health Organization? China will accept that?

Ambassador Liu: Yes. The pandemic really shows the weakness of WHO, both in terms of its capabilities and resources, and how WHO could respond more quickly and more effectively, especially taking care of the poorest and the weak countries. I think it needs reform. We can do this after we claim the final victory over the virus. The top priority now is to pull together and to support WHO to lead this battle. We have not put the virus under control yet.

Murnaghan: As the world's biggest emitter, what's China's commitment to keeping up this temporary fall in emissions (during the pandemic)?

Ambassador Liu: China is very much committed to Paris Agreement. China has fulfilled its obligations three years ahead of plan. In 2018, we had brought down the carbon intensity by 45.8% from 2005. We have also brought down the consumption of carbon per unit GDP by 2.6%. China is now the largest investor in new energy and renewable energy, and China is very much committed to mitigation of climate change. China will also hold the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity by the end of the year.

Murnaghan: Is it going to go ahead? You are still planning to do it?

Ambassador Liu: It has not yet been finalized because of the pandemic. So it's still open. This year is supposed to be the year of collaboration between China and the UK in environmental protection. Now UK has rescheduled COP26 to November next year. But we are still keeping very close contact on line with my British colleagues to compare notes on how to make the conferences successful.

Murnaghan: I want to ask you specifically about rebuilding trust, about the race to develop a vaccine for Covid-19. We noticed the advances China and some other countries are making. But if China were to develop an effective vaccine, would it be willing -- and this is in terms of rebuilding trust I suppose -- will it be willing to share that vaccine with the planet as cheap as possible?

Ambassador Liu: Definitely. President Xi made firm commitment during the World Health Assembly that once the vaccine is available, China want to make it a public good and make it especially accessible and available to developing countries. China is now among the most advanced countries in terms of vaccine research. Now we are in phase II, we already have five clinical trials and we want to share with the rest of the world. China is working with scientists from the UK and other countries including the United States on the vaccine.

I can't agree with the table you just showed that China's reputation has been damaged. It depends on where you get this information. According to the information I have by an independent PR company in United States, Edelman Trust Barometer 2020, Chinese government enjoys the highest support among its people. It's about 82%, top of all countries. And also according a Singapore public opinion company Black Box Research -- they did a survey of 23 countries -- China again tops the rest 22 countries. Chinese government enjoys more than 85% of public support.

Murnaghan: We are running short of time, I am going to ask the Ambassador finally on this lack of trust, particularly with the younger generation. Well you are seeing that on the streets of Hong Kong: the Chinese state's repression of those protesters -- the seekers after democracy.

Ambassador Liu: No, it's not "Chinese repression". What is going on in Hong Kong is violence. It's a risk to the national security. Those perpetrators stormed the Legislative Council, and they even set fire to innocent people. If the same thing happens on the streets of London, if the rioters storm the UK Parliament, what would be the UK's reaction? The UK government and police will sit back and let these things go on? I think any responsible government has to take measures. Some people do not realise that "One Country, Two Systems" has achieved great success since Hong Kong returned to China twenty-three years ago.

Murnaghan: We are running out of time. I want to say thank you to our panelists. Thank you, Ambassador Liu.

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