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Home > Embassy News > 2009
UK Conservative Party Committed to Developing Sustained and Robust Relationship with China

On October 7, 2009, Ambassador Fu Ying hosted the China Forum themed “China-Britain Strategic Partnership” on the sidelines of the annual conference of the Conservative Party. Attendants included the Conservative Party Vice Chairman Richard Spring, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs David Lidington, Director of the Centre for European Reform Charles Grant, Chief Economist for Standard Chartered Bank Dr. Gerard Lyons and others from the political, academic and economic communities. Around two hundred grass root party and public members attended the meeting and joined the discussion.

Fu Ying began with an overview of the achievements that the new China has scored over the past 60 years and the changes on people’s lives. She said that after celebrating the end of poverty and underdevelopment, the Chinese people had embarked on a development path that fits their own national conditions. China is now closely integrated to the world. There has been extensive and fruitful cooperation between China and Britain on bilateral and multilateral fronts.

Fu Ying spoke of her own experience of studying abroad and living among the Western people. She stressed on the importance of increasing exchanges between China and the West. She said, people tend to develop their thoughts and ideas from their own living environment. With differences in history, culture, value and development stage, it is natural that China and the West take different perspectives. Interaction could be hard sometimes, but what really counts is to respect and treat each other equally. China is ready to listen to thoughts and ideas of the Western public. The West also needs to improve its image among the Chinese public.

While speaking highly of the tremendous success that the new China has made in the past 60 years, guests said that the National Day parade was another grand celebration following the Beijing Olympics and demonstrated a brand new look of a modern China.

Guests said that there have been major changes in world geopolitics last year. The shift of economic and political power from the West to the East has been most evident. G20 will replace G8 and assume more leadership in global economic governance. As China is increasingly moving to the centre stage, major global issues such as climate change and financial crisis are hard to be resolved without its participation. China is not only actively engaged in the reform of the international financial institutions, but has been a constructive participant in global cooperation efforts such as the UN peacekeeping missions and Somali anti-piracy issue. All this has fully proven its sense of responsibility as a world power.

Spring said, the Conservative Party takes seriously its relationship with China. Party leader Cameron is committed to advancing sustained and robust relationship with China. Many of its senior members including Cameron himself have visited China and are aware of the tremendous opportunities that relations with China will bring to Britain. The Party is ready to increase its contact with China across all fields and at different levels, and continue with dialogue and cooperation.

Lidington said that the 100,000 Chinese students now studying in Britain is an important bridge for closer ties between the two peoples and greater cooperation between the two countries. He said that he had often suggested his friends study Chinese to understand China better. He said, despite different views on certain issues, the Conservative Party stands for dialogue in an open, honest, candid and friend-to-friend way, holds it important to respect China’s perspective, background and feelings, and is fully aware of what China has changed over the past ten years. The Conservative Party believes it highly important to develop Britain’s future China policy on the basis of understanding, trust and mutual respect, and is ready to play an active part in advancing EU-China relationship.

Grant said, the EU expects China to be a country with more economic power and political openness. However, as EU member states may vary in their own China policies for their respective interests, confusions are inevitable at times. Neither does the EU follow the US and others in their G4 proposal nor is it interested in G3. Instead, it should forge closer unity for the benefit of its own prosperity and carry out more effective cooperation with China on the reform of international economic governance.

Lyons said, the current economic and financial crisis is a systemic failure of the global financial system and reflects imbalance in global economy. Adjustments are required for both China and the West. China has played a leading role in countering the financial crisis. China’s economic restructuring is an incremental process. At the moment, Britain’s export to China and India accounts for around 1% respectively. It is therefore important for Britain to expand trade and investment cooperation with the emerging economies.

The Q&A session was very active with questions raised on issues such as the RMB exchange rate, China’s foreign reserves, religious freedom, environmental protection and the North Korea nuclear issue, and answered by Fu Ying and other panellists.

This was the second time that the Chinese Embassy held the China Forum on the sidelines of the annual conference of the Conservative Party. The meeting room was so packed that some had to stand on the back rows. Visitors were attracted by the huge photos demonstrating life changes in China since reform. They were also interested in the National Day Feature contributed by the Embassy and published by the Daily Telegraph.

Many viewed the China Forum as the “brand” event and among the most popular events of the annual meeting. Such candid, direct and convincing means of communication, in their view, is more acceptable to the public and has left people in Britain with a fresh image of China.
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