Exclusive: Chinese Ambassador to UK Hails Brexit Free Trade ‘Opportunity’

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By Kieran Corcoran | 3:48 am, July 26, 2016

China’s ambassador to the UK has hailed Brexit as an “opportunity” for the two countries to strengthen relations and pursue a free trade deal.

Liu Xiaoming, the top Chinese diplomat in London, told Heat Street that Britain’s decision to leave the EU behind could mean more prosperity for both nations.

Heat Street managed to collar the ambassador after an event at the prestigious Chatham House think tank on Monday night to ask about the implications of Brexit.

When asked whether the vote could be good for UK-China relations, he said: “Oh yes. Do you speak Mandarin?

“There is a Chinese saying – ‘with crisis – comes opportunity’.”

The idea of a trade deal has recently been raised by Philip Hammond, who was in China last week on his first overseas trip as Chancellor.

The encouraging noises from Beijing will hearten Brexiteers, who argued during the referendum campaign that quitting the EU could turbocharge UK relations with Asia.

China joins a string of major economies which have floated closer economic relations with an independent UK since the Brexit vote.

They include the United States, Canada, India and Mexico.

Liu spoke with Heat Street at Chatham House after giving a robust address on China’s dispute with neighbouring countries over the South China Sea.

The row, centred on Chinese claims that the sea is its territory, took a turn against China when a UN Tribunal ruled against it.

But Liu dismissed the UN move as “political farce”, “illegal” and “the fruit of a poisonous tree”, and vowed that China would defend its interests.

Image via Chatham House/Flickr