China’s ambassador to the UK set to resign after combative tenure



Liu Xiaoming, the present Chinese language envoy to the UK, will go away his submit within the close to future, Tam Yiu-chung, a delegate to the Nationwide Folks’s Congress Standing Committee confirmed to CNN. At 64, Liu is just a few years off the unofficial retirement age for senior Communist Social gathering members of 68, although nicely above the authorized retirement age of 60. The South China Morning Publish first reported Liu’s plans Sunday.

China’s Ministry of Overseas Affairs and the nation’s embassy within the UK didn’t reply to a request for remark.

In response to Tam, Liu’s alternative might be Zheng Zeguang, 57, a present vice overseas minister who beforehand served as a senior diplomat in america. Liu additionally labored within the US for a few years earlier than changing into ambassador to the UK in 2009, a submit he has held since.

In that place, Liu has emerged as one of the crucial outstanding defenders of Beijing on the worldwide stage, taking over a public-facing position that was as soon as uncommon for Chinese language diplomats.

In some ways, Liu helped set the mildew for what are actually often called China’s “wolf warriors” — a time period as soon as embraced by Chinese language state media however now rejected by Beijing. It has come to explain the kind of combative, nationalist officers who readily interact with overseas critics on-line and within the media.

“We by no means choose a battle or bully others. However we’ve ideas and guts. We are going to push again towards any deliberate insult, resolutely defend our nationwide honor and dignity, and we’ll refute all groundless slander with information,” Chinese language Overseas Minister Wang Yi stated earlier this yr, responding to a query in regards to the nation’s strategy to diplomacy.

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A controversial monitor file

In 2014, Liu attracted controversy when he blasted a go to by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a controversial World Conflict II shrine, utilizing an analogy involving the villain from the Harry Potter sequence.
“If militarism is just like the haunting Voldemort of Japan, the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is a type of horcrux, representing the darkest elements of that nation’s soul,” Liu wrote, in an op-ed praising the UK and China’s alliance throughout that conflict.
That was throughout the so-called “golden period” of relations between London and Beijing, throughout which Liu oversaw a state go to by Chinese language President Xi Jinping to the UK.

Relations have soured since, nevertheless, because the UK has taken a troublesome line in regard to Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and restricted Chinese language telecoms big Huawei over espionage fears.

Liu Xiaoming (left) seen visiting then US President Bill Clinton at the White House on May 13, 1999.
In June, Liu appeared on the BBC to defend China’s insurance policies in Xinjiang, the far-western area the place Beijing has detained an estimated 2 million Uyghurs and different Muslim minorities in “re-education camps.” Confronted with credible accusations of pressured sterilization of Uyghur girls, mass interment, and different alleged human rights abuses, Liu advised the broadcaster these could possibly be “simply refuted.”

“This isn’t true. The actual fact simply reveals the other. Folks in Xinjiang take pleasure in blissful life. They name for order to be restored in Xinjiang,” he stated.

In the identical interview, he additionally defended Beijing’s latest imposition of a sweeping nationwide safety legislation on Hong Kong, which criminalized secession, subversion and overseas interference within the former British colony. All through his profession, Liu pushed again arduous towards makes an attempt by London to talk out for democracy in Hong Kong and complaints that Beijing wasn’t sticking to the ideas of the settlement governing the town’s handover to Chinese language rule.
Throughout main anti-government protests in Hong Kong final yr, Liu was summoned by London over “unacceptable and inaccurate” feedback accusing the UK of interfering within the metropolis’s affairs and inspiring the unrest. He additionally inveighed towards London for banning Chinese language telecoms big Huawei, warning earlier this yr that the best way the UK handled the telecoms big “might be adopted very intently by different Chinese language companies.”

Reward at house

Whereas Liu’s feedback gained him few followers in London, they have been nicely acquired at house. For instance, the nationalist state-run tabloid World Instances praised Liu for exposing “Western media pretend information” on Xinjiang and different points.
Liu has been one of many extra energetic Chinese language diplomats on Twitter, the place he has greater than 103,000 followers and tweets recurrently on each Chinese language and British politics. The platform has additionally prompted him issues nevertheless: in September, Liu’s profile “appreciated” a pornographic tweet in addition to one criticizing the Communist Social gathering, main many to invest his Twitter account had been hacked.
Extra just lately, he used the platform final week to congratulate the UK and European Union on a post-Brexit deal, which Liu described as a “fantastic Christmas present!”

The fallout from Brexit will probably dominate the agenda of whomever succeeds Liu, whether or not Zheng or one other candidate.

China had been seen by many as a potential main market for the UK to increase into as soon as it leaves the EU, however latest diplomatic spats have thrown this into doubt. The UK may also need to face coping with Beijing from a place of considerably-denuded energy, in comparison with its position inside the EU, one of many world’s largest buying and selling blocs.
Relations between the UK and China appear unlikely to enhance within the brief time period both, with London poised to start welcoming probably lots of of 1000’s of Hong Kongers underneath a brand new immigration scheme introduced in response to Beijing’s imposition of the nationwide safety legislation.
In August, Liu denounced the transfer and stated the UK “will bear the results of treating China as a hostile nation.”

CNN’s Eric Cheung contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

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