'Britain must make adjustments': China ambassador unapologetic for Redcar steel job losses

Britain must "make adjustments" to keep up with the rapidly changing global economy, China's ambassador to the UK has told ITV News following the closure of Redcar steelworks.

The demise of the plant in Teesside and the loss of over 2,000 jobs has been blamed on cheap Chinese imports flooding the market.

Tata Steel UK is also expected to announce significant job losses this week.

"If you continue to stay with your old, traditional business, you're losing money and opportunities...China is making adjustments - why not Britain?" an unapologetic Liu Xiaoming said.

Liu Xiaoming was speaking to International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar as Prime Minister David Cameron prepared to roll out the red carpet for a four-day historic state visit by China's President Xi Jingping.

Here's what else the Chinese Ambassador had to say on:

  • Human rights

Human rights activists are due to hold protests to mark the president's visit, with Amnesty UK among the groups planning demonstrations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is also expected to raise concerns over human rights abuses when he meets the president at a state banquet.

Liu Xiaoming said while China does "not shy away" from human rights, Britain and China should "agree to disagree" for the benefit of healthy relations between the two.

I think we are open to discussions about human rights - we do not shy away from the discussion. When you talk about human rights you have to approach this issue from a comprehensive perspective. Some Western politicians only focus on individual cases but they miss the big picture of the progress of Chinese human rights. In the past 30 years, there has been a great advancement for Chinese human rights. What is human rights? People's rights for better living, better education, better jobs, freedom of speech, freedom of travelling around. China elevated 800 million people out of poverty within 30 years - it's a miracle. No country has done that.

Liu Xiaoming
  • China's economic slowdown

A construction site in Beijjing. Credit: Reuters

China's economic growth recently declined to a six-year low with concern growing over weakening trade and manufacturing.

But the ambassador insisted the slowdown was "healthy".

"Even the slowdown from double digits to 7-8%, China is still the leader in terms of growth."

  • British-Chinese relations

China's president Xi Jingping will start his state visit to Britain on Tuesday. Credit: PA Wire

The Chinese president's state visit is a "landmark" moment, he said, saying China and the UK's relationship was now approaching a "golden era".

Liu Xiaoming previously expressed concern that Britain was "lagging behind" other European countries in its relations with China.

But the ambassador said the "trust and political relations between Britain and China had significantly strengthened after David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne made high-profile visits to Beijing in the last year.

I think this is the first time that both sides have this consensus to work towards a golden era for China and UK relations. They [the Chinese public] see that a British politician [David Cameron] has the vision to see the rise of China as an opportunity - not as a threat. I think the two countries see each other as partners. We really mean business.

Liu Xiaoming
  • Illegal wildlife trade

Prince William touches an elephant during his visit to China. Credit: Reuters

Prince William - who visited China in March - is due to make a speech highlighting the issue of illegal wildlife trade to coincide with the president's visit.

The speech will be broadcast on Chinese state TV channel CCTV1.

The ambassador said China "strongly supported" international efforts and had taken its own initiatives in fighting the trade.

China is strongly supporting international efforts to fight the illegal trade of endangered species. I was sitting in a meeting with Prince William and the president when they were talking about how China and the UK can cooperate in protecting wildlife and fighting against illegal trade. China destroyed five tonnes of tusk - that shows the determination of the Chinese government.

Liu Xiaoming

Watch Rageh Omaar's full interview with the Chinese ambassador: