Ambassador: I think this question is still up for scientists to decide. I read the report that the first case in China was reported on the 27th December by Dr. Zhang Jixian to Chinese local health authorities. But I also read reports that some of the cases were found to be much earlier than that. We read even the report by your newspapers yesterday that your scientists, medical advisers, even warned your government that there might be a virus unknown to us, much earlier, last year. So all I can say is that the first reported case in China was on the 27th of December in Wuhan.
Sackur: I think there's no doubt experts believe the origin of the first outbreak, first examples of this Covid-19 virus to be found in human beings, came from Wuhan and the surrounding area in China. I just wonder whether you accept that it is very important that we understand exactly what happened at the beginning of this outbreak, that we understand frankly what mistakes and missteps were made, which allowed the first outbreak to become a global pandemic.
Ambassador: As I said earlier, now I understand why there's a so-called call for an independent investigation. They try to find an excuse for them to criticize China for cover-up. But the fact is that Li Wenliang was not the first one who discovered this virus. As I told you, it was Dr. Zhang Jixian, and she reported 3 days earlier than Li Wenliang to the health authorities. Then, the health authorities in Wuhan reported to the central government, and then four days later, that means one day after Li Wenliang spread the word, the Chinese authorities shared the information with the WHO and other countries. No cover-up at all.
Ambassador: I think what you're saying is that Mr. Zhao retweeted some media report. I do not know why you focus on some comments by individuals in China but miss the disinformation by senior officials, even the national leaders, of the United States who started this campaign of disinformation, especially by the top diplomat, the secretary of state? When it comes to China, there's not any good word about China. And China is really regarded as an evil, not as a country which has been lending a helping hand to America in the fight against this virus. I do not quite understand.
Ambassador: We certainly want to have good relations with the United States. I've been posted twice in Washington, DC. I always believe that China and the United States will gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. And we have every reason to have a good relationship with the United States. But it has to be based on mutual trust, coordination and non-confrontation. But you need two to tango. Since the outbreak, President Xi and President Trump have kept very close contact. They had two telephone conversations and compared notes, just as President Xi had two telephone conversations with Prime Minister Johnson. We want to build an international response to this virus. I just want to let Americans know that China is not an enemy of the United States. It's the virus that is the enemy of the United States. They need to find the right target.
Sackur: It’s a very important message you’re sending. Maybe China could consider some gestures that would improve relations with not just the United States but many other countries, including Australia and the UK who’ve made the same point to your government. One, will you now categorically guarantee to close down the so-called “wet markets”, that there will no longer be the sale of these live wild animals in the food markets that are known as the “wet markets”? Is that now something that has been banned, not just short term, but absolutely banned forever in China?
Sackur: That is therefore a recognition -- I just want to be clear -- a recognition on your government’s part that the dangers of those markets, where live wild animals were sold alongside other foodstuffs, they were dangers that did cause the spread coronavirus from animals to humans.
Sackur: So people watching this will only wish that you had made that ban real before coronavirus spread and cause such terrible damage around the world. Are you in any way prepared to say sorry for what has happened?
Ambassador: Yes and no. I think you talk about this person as a very senior politician, but I don't think this view represents the official position of the UK government. I think the UK government under Prime Minister Johnson is still committed to a stronger partnership with China. In his two telephone conversations with President Xi, he reaffirmed UK’s commitment to building a Golden Era with China. And we do have very good cooperation with the UK side throughout this outbreak, in addition to intensive communication. I've been here for 10 years as a Chinese Ambassador. I have never seen that our top leaders have such an intensive communications between them. And also at the ministerial level, we have our State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi having telephone conversation with Secretary Raab, and Yang Jiechi, Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, having close contact with the Sir Mark Sedwill. Here in London, I have very close contact with the government secretaries, including Secretaries Mat Hancock and Alok Sharma, and Foreign Secretary Raab. We have a very strong, robust relationship. And you quote those people using Soviet example. I think this is a totally Cold War mentality. We are living in the third decade of the 21st century, but those people still live in the old days when they were fighting the cold war. China is not former Soviet Union. I think China and the UK are united by common interests rather than divided by our differences. So I'm very confident about this relationship.
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