The Chinese Ambassador to the UK has hit out at criticism of Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calling for “united action” to overcome the crisis.
Speaking during an Asia House webinar this morning, Liu Xiaoming said “in a time of crisis, blaming and scapegoating is futile” – comments clearly aimed at US policymakers.
China has faced criticism in recent weeks about its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, drawing particular fire from the US administration.
“We need global, united action to win the battle” against COVID19, the Ambassador said.
New aid package announced
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Liu highlighted China’s role in the global fight against coronavirus, announcing a new US$30 million aid package.
“China has engaged actively in international cooperation,” he said. “Today, China announced a further donation of US$30 million which will be used on containing COVID19 and bolstering the public health system in developing countries.”
He also gave an optimistic assessment of China’s economy, which shrank in Q1 for the first time in almost 30 years.
“China’s economy will maintain steady growth in the long term,” he said. “Its momentum will not change.”
He added that the coronavirus pandemic may even spur some industries, particularly digital services, smart manufacturing and the “stay at home economy.”
Ambassador Liu was joined by Lord Green, Chairman of Asia House – which drives engagement between Asia and Europe. Lord Green highlighted the “extremely important role Asia House has to play in providing a platform for this dialogue,” and shared his thoughts on how COVID19 could shape the global agenda. In particular, he raised concerns about the impact of the virus on climate change.
“COVID19 has forced China to postpone the Kunming Biodiversity conference and the UK to postpone the Glasgow COP due in November,” Lord Green said, adding that he hoped this would not disrupt the global progress that has been made so far.
“We must not allow COVID19 and the tragedies and difficulties of the present circumstances to take our eye off that ball.”
The Ambassador also took questions from Asia House Corporate Members and media from around the world during a Q&A moderated by Asia House Chief Executive, Michael Lawrence.
Asked by the BBC’s James Landale if China will cooperate in any international investigation into the pandemic, Ambassador Liu stressed that China has been cooperative throughout.
“China has been open and transparent from the very beginning. We invited experts from the WHO to visit not only Wuhan but other cities,” he said.
WATCH the discussion in full
The briefing was part of an ongoing series of digital events convened by Asia House to keep its network informed during the coronavirus crisis.