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The Chinese ambassador to the UK has said Britain “missed an opportunity to be a leading country” with the decision not to use Huawei for its 5G network.
Liu Xiaoming said he believed the British government had made a mistake with the decision and said Boris Johnson would struggle to fulfil his pledge to complete the UK’s 5G network by 2025.
“This is a very bad decision,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “When the decision was announced I said ‘this is a dark day for Huawei, it’s a dark day for China-UK relations and an even darker day for the United Kingdom’ because you missed an opportunity to be a leading country.”
Asked whether China had plans to punish British companies trading in Chinese markets, Liu said his country had no desire to “politicise” economic matters.
“That is wrong. In the same way it’s wrong for the UK to discriminate against Chinese companies because of pressure from the US,” he said.
“People talk about this national security risk but there is no hard, solid evidence to say ‘Huawei is a risk to the UK.’
“They have been here for 20 years and made a huge contribution to the telecoms industry in this country and helped the UK to develop.
“Boris Johnson has an ambitious plan to have full 5G coverage by 2025, I think Huawei can deliver that, but it now seems to me the UK has just kicked them out under pressure from the US.”
On the same programme, foreign secretary Dominic Raab hit back by accusing China of carrying out "gross, egregious human rights abuses" against the Uighur people.
Raab - who is facing calls to impose sanctions on the Chinese officials involved in the actions - said Britain was determined to "call out" such behaviour.
"It is clear that there are gross, egregious human rights abuses going on. We are working with our international partners on this. It is deeply, deeply troubling," he said.
"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.
"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."
However, Liu warned that Beijing will make a "resolute response" to any moves by Britain to sanction Chinese officials for human rights abuses.
"We never believe in unilateral sanctions. We believe the UN has the authority to impose sanctions. If the UK Government goes that far to impose sanctions on any individuals in China, China will certainly make resolute response to it," he said.
"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-US happen in China-UK relations.
"I think UK should have its own independent foreign policy rather than dance to the tune of the Americans like what happened to Huawei."