China’s ambassador to Britain claims some MPs want ‘a new cold war’ as tensions simmer
Liu Xiaoming has accused some British MPs of seeking a new Cold War with China
The Chinese ambassador to the UK has accused some British MPs of "clamouring for a new cold war with China".
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming accused London of having "poisoned the relationship" between the two countries as he hit out at British "interference" in their internal affairs.
Relations have deteriorated in recent months following China's decision to impose tough new security laws on Hong Kong, which the UK claim is a breach of a joint international treaty covering the city state.
But in an extraordinary press conference on Thursday, the Chinese official said the relationship between the countries was "standing at a critical, historical juncture".
Taking aim at the UK's decision to offer a path to citizenship for British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders in Hong Kong, Mr Liu said: "China respects UK sovereignty and has never interfered in the UK's internal affairs.
"It is important the UK will do the same - namely, respect China's sovereignty and stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs, which are China's internal affairs, so as to avoid further damage to the China-UK relationship."
He added: "I want to set the record straight. We made no threats. We threatened nobody.
"We just let you know the consequences."
And in a further racheting up of the rhetoric, the ambassador said the row risked jeapordising prospects for future "co-operation in areas of trade, financial services, science and technology, education and healthcare."
He said: "It is hard to imagine a 'Global Britain' that bypasses or excludes China.
"Decoupling from China means decouping from opportunities, decoupling from growth and decoupling from the future."
Tensions between London and Beijing have risen further in recent weeks following the decision to remove Chinese firm Huawei from the UK's 5G network as well as growing condemnation from ministers over of the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.
But in a blunt message to critics, Mr Liu said the UK was fully responsible for the breakdown in the diplomatic relationship.
"Some British politicians cling to the Cold War mentality and uphold the remarks of anti-China forces outside and inside the UK," he said.
"They play up the so-called China threat and see China as a hostile state, threatening a complete decoupling from China, and even clamour for a new Cold War against China."
And the Chinese envoy, who showed a series of propoganda videos aimed at disproving allegation of human rights abuses again Uighurs, said the claims were "the lies of the century".
Instead, he said detention facilities, described as "concentration camps" by some UK officials, were actually "deradicalisation centres" aimed at helping Uighurs become "law-abiding citizens".
But hitting out at the remarks, Tory MP Alicia Kearns said: "So the Chinese Ambassador admits to the detention of large numbers of Uighurs.
"Mass incarceration of an ethnic minority does not tackle any so-called terrorism or extremism issue, indeed it is more likely to do the opposite."