The Chinese ambassador in UK wanted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to ‘behave’ during the ongoing high-profile visit of President Xi Jinping, who he said was not coming for a ‘debate’ on human rights, but Corbyn managed to do just that on Tuesday evening.
A Labour statement said Corbyn raised China’s human rights record and the impact of its imports on the UK steel industry during a meeting with Jinping at Buckingham Palace that the party described as ‘cordial and constructive’.
Republican Corbyn, who is loathe to engage with the royal family, was dressed appropriately for the banquet on Tuesday evening, and also shook hands with Queen Elizabeth like all guests.
The Labour statement added that Corbyn’s meeting with Xi stressed the good nature of the exchange, and praised “the remarkable Chinese achievements in poverty-reduction, lifting over 600 million people out of poverty”.
The meeting also discussed historic links between the UK, Labour and China, the sacrifice of the Chinese people in the struggle against fascism during World War 2, and Xi’s New Silk Road strategy.
The statement added that Corbyn and Xi spoke about working together to address major threats to world security such as climate change, persistent economic inequality and international terrorism, as well as opportunities to upgrade cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the UK.
Speaking to BBC prior to Jinping’s visit, China’s ambassador Liu Xiaoming said Corbyn should “know how to behave” when he sits down with the president, who, he said, was not coming to London for a debate on human rights.
Prince Charles, who is said to be close to the Dalai Lama, did not attend the banquet but met Xi separately.
Relations between China and Britain have warmed up in recent years, with chancellor George Osborne recently completing a trade and business visit to China. Britain has invited China to invest in nuclear energy, which has raised some concerns.
Britain expects Chinese investment worth 30 billion pounds in nuclear energy and other sectors. The David Cameron government courting China for trade and investment has come in for much criticism, particularly given its alleged poor record in human rights.