The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming has said that people should look at "the big picture" and the "progress" that China has made in the area of human rights just days before the official state visit of President Xi Jinping to the UK. He also questioned whether Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn would bring up China's record in human rights at the official state banquet.
Speaking to political interviewer Andrew Marr, Xiaoming said: "I don't think the Labour Party will raise this issue [of human rights] at a state banquet... I don't think so," and indicated that the President's visit was about "partnership" and not a discussion on whether China had violated human rights codes. A spokesman for the Labour leader has already said that Corbyn will use the opportunity to broach the subject at the banquet. The visit is the first of its kind since 2005.
However, Xiaoming said that if the subject did present itself the Chinese dignitaries would not shy away from it and said that he had already had a "good meeting" Corbyn during last week and that China would be hands-on in any discuss and not bow to "microphone diplomacy".
"First of all, I think the state banquet is for Her Majesty, it is her show, either Jeremy Corbyn or others are her guests", he warned.
When he was challenged on the subject of Chinese dissidents and the treatment of their human rights, Xiaoming said that there were a lot of differences between the UK and China. Dissidents, he said were "trialled through a normal legal process. He continued: "No one will be put behind bars simply because they are criticising the government. The criminals that are put behind bars are there because they have a criminal record. Either they incite or engage in an organisation to overthrow the government."
The official state visit to the UK of President Xi Jinping commences this Tuesday (20 October).