China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei
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'China needs good relations with West'

For The Editors, a programme which sets out to ask challenging questions, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson decided to find out whether China is the West's friend, or its enemy.

As part of this, he applied for an interview with a senior Chinese official on the subject of China's position in the world - something that the BBC has not been allowed to do in China for at least 20 years.

But an interview was granted, with Hong Lei, deputy director-general in the foreign ministry.

His message was that China regards it as essential for its continuing economic and political development to keep good relations with the West.

The Editors features the BBC's on-air specialists asking questions which reveal deeper truths about their areas of expertise. Watch it on BBC1 on Monday 29 July at 23:10 BST or catch it later on the BBC iPlayer or on BBC World News.

  • 29 Jul 2013
  • From the section Asia