MOFA refutes Sunak's accusations against China, denying alleged assault of BBC journalist

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian at a regular press conference in Beijing, China, November 29, 2022. (Photo: Chinese Foreign Ministry)

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday refuted British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's accusations against China, including one that a BBC reporter was "assaulted" in Shanghai.

In response to Sunak's criticism of China's COVID-19 control policy and the claimed assault of a BBC journalist in Shanghai, the ministry's spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference that what the British side said ignores the facts, confounds right and wrong and poses gross interference in China's internal affairs.

Zhao said the reporter was taken away by Shanghai police because he refused to leave when the police informed him clearly that they would dissuade people from gathering at a crossroad and did not reveal his journalist identity.

The spokesperson noted that the police allowed the journalist to leave after they verified his identity and gave him legal notification, stressing that the whole procedure was entirely based on law.

The journalist who refused to cooperate with the police acted like a victim while BBC distorted the facts, playing up its journalist being "arrested and beaten" by the police when he was at work, which is the usual practice by BBC to shift blame, Zhao said.

Zhao reiterated that foreign journalists enjoy the right to report in China, but they must comply with Chinese laws and regulations. He further questioned the British government's abuse of the protesters and journalists in the UK and the BBC's reports about China, especially what happened in China's Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

"The British side should respect the facts, be discreet in word and deed and stop playing double standards," he warned.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in the UK also refuted Sunak's claims that China poses "a systemic challenge to UK's values and interests" and that there are "violations of human rights" in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

The embassy's spokesperson said such remarks are full of ideological bias that maliciously distort and denigrate China's policy.

China has always been a builder of world peace and a contributor to global development, the spokesperson said, adding that the root cause of the difficulties faced by Britain today lies in itself, not in China.

Xinjiang and Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs, which Britain is in no position to make unwarranted remarks about, said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson said the Chinese government has adopted the right policies regarding Xinjiang and Hong Kong, which are conducive to safeguarding human rights, promoting development and achieving long-term peace and stability.

The spokesperson urged Britain to stop denigrating China, interfering in China's internal affairs and not to follow the United States in hindering the development of the bilateral relations.

The British side should work with China, expand cooperation and manage differences based on mutual trust and mutual benefits, which is the right choice in the interests of the two peoples, the spokesperson said.