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Home > Embassy News > 2010
Strengthen Partnership, Promote Mutually Beneficial Cooperation
China Forum of the Labor Party Conference Hosted by Chinese Embassy
2010/10/01

 

On the evening of September 27, 2010, the brightly lit and packed out Richter Room of Radisson Hotel in Manchester was livened up by rounds of applause and laughter. At this sub-venue for the annual autumn conference of British Labor Party, the China Forum hosted by the Chinese Embassy in the UK became an exceptional attraction. At the forum, three keynote speakers, namely Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Lord Prescott, Former British Deputy Prime Minister and Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, exchanged views sincerely and frankly with over 100 Labour Party members on the bright future for the development of China-UK relations. The forum was presided over by Mark Hendrick MP, Chair of All Party Parliamentary China Group.

 

Ambassador talked with Liam Byrne MP and Mark Hendrick MP

In his speech Ambassador Liu Xiaoming first extended congratulations on the election of Mr. Ed Miliband, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, as the new leader of the Labour Party. He looked back at the rapid development of China-UK relations during the 13 years of the Labour government, expressing that the constant progress in the bilateral relations would not have been possible without the vision and efforts of the Labour Party, and that China highly commends the solid foundation the Labour Party has laid for long-term growth in China-UK relations. With regard to the theme “Why China and Britain need a stronger partnership?”, Ambassador Liu put forward the “three needs” for a stronger partnership between the two countries:

Ambassador Liu delivers a speech

Firstly, the two countries both need development. Both China and UK are faced with serious challenges in economic growth. Although being the second largest economy, China is still a developing country, with a per capita GDP of merely 3,700 US dollars, ranking behind 100 other countries. China urgently needs to restructure its economy and upgrade its economic growth pattern.UK has put the recession behind it, but it still needs to achieve sustainable growth. China and UK need to work closely in the post-crisis era, as the cooperation between the two countries holds the greatest promise, given their strong economic complementarity. A post-industrial UK’s strengths lie in advanced manufacturing such as aeroplane and automobile, high-end service industries such as financial, information, shipping and consulting services, and the new high-tech industries of energy conservation, environmental protection and low-carbon technologies. China, on the other hand, is in the process of industrialisation with a large labour force, a strong manufacturing sector and a vast consumer market.

Secondly, the two countries need to shoulder common responsibilities in international affairs. In the current complex international situation, although peace and development remain the theme of the world, we must continue to be alert to the conventional and non-conventional security threats that still endanger world peace. As two permanent members of the UN Security Council and major countries of influence, China and UK have important responsibilities in maintaining world peace and promoting common development, and the bilateral relations between the two countries are taking on greater global and strategic significance. The two countries need to work together to prevent regional conflicts, advance multilateralism, respond to climate change, safeguard free trade, promote the reform of the international financial system and uphold nuclear non-proliferation.

Thirdly, the two countries need to draw upon each other’s strength. As two countries, each with a time-honoured history and splendid culture, China and UK need to learn from each other and progress together. The success of the Beijing Olympics two years ago has largely changed the way many Britons view China, as they saw an open and confident country. The ongoing Shanghai World Expo is now offering another chance to boost the mutual understanding and interaction between the two countries. And the 2012 London Olympics will surely widen the Chinese people’s view about UK.

Ambassador Liu said that 56 years ago, Earl Attlee, the then Labour Party leader, led a delegation to China in the hope of bringing back “friendship and peace”. Today, a strong China-UK partnership not only means friendship and peace for the two peoples, but also development and prosperity. He hoped the two sides will continue to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership and build a better future of common prosperity.

Ambassador Liu's wonderful speech evoked a warm reaction among the Labour Party members present. His punch lines were received with laughters and sounds of approval, and his entire speech was punctuated by rounds of prolonged applause.

Liam Byrne MP delivers a speech

Liam Byrne MP started his speech by quoting the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson - “Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing”. In retrospect of the development of UK-China relations over the past two decades, he expressed that a pioneering spirit and hard work have constituted the cornerstone of the steady development of the relations between the two countries. Since the reform and opening up initiated by Mr. Deng Xiaoping, enormous changes have taken place in the world landscape, and the globalisation, which benefits the world population of over 6 billion, brings world economies close together. China, by adopting social market economy after reform and opening up, has seen its economy growing at an average annual rate of 10% and ranked the second in the world in terms of economic aggregate, while UK’s economic growth rate was among the highest in G7 over the ten years before the financial crisis. As two countries with great significance in the world economy, both UK and China will benefit from an open global economic system, and the acceleration of trade globalisation shall provide a huge development opportunity for both countries. However, China still has a rural population of 700 million and its per capita GDP is merely USD $3,700. Therefore, in the next ten years, UK and China shall strengthen their mutual understanding, make joint efforts to push forward the development of the global economy and promote the new global trade agreement and climate change agreement. Byrne recalled with pleasure his recent trip to China and he believed that the Shanghai World Expo can be deemed as the most successful one in history. Surveys show that the British Pavilion ranks the second most popoular pavilion at the Expo. The upcoming 2012 London Olympic Games shall provide a good opportunity for the sports exchanges between UK and China. In a word, the world is undergoing enormous changes and the great nations, such as UK and China, may conduct cooperation in many fields.

Lord Prescott delivers a speech

Lord Prescott said that he just concluded his 23rd visit to China since 1997 and had personally experienced the in-depth changes unfolding in China. China’s economic growth per annum equals to the UK’s economic growth for 10 years. Economic globalization has brought about global issues, which require even more cooperation between UK and China in major issues concerning economy, the environment, security, etc. As it is undergoing industrialisation, China is faced with a series of problems just as UK did at the beginning of its industrialisation. UK has some misunderstandings about China on such issues as human rights, Tibet, etc., but it cannot place a rash judgment on another country merely based on its own criteria. As China is one of the most important countries in the world, UK needs to deepen its understanding of China and strengthen its cooperation with China.

Lord Prescott pointed out that China is still a developing country, which is confronted with enormous development pressure. Each year, some 15 million labour force enter the market, posing enormous pressure on China’s social stability. China has lifted 300 million people out of poverty, which is an extraordinary achievement. Every country needs resources for its industrialisation. When someone accuses China of acquiring resources from Africa, he must understand the fact that China trades commercial contracts for resources, whereas some Western countries had once plundered resources through colonisation. Climate change is another important field for the UK-China cooperation. China’s total emission is considerable indeed, but when calculated in per capita, the emission in the US is 20 tons, EU, 12 tons and China, 5 tons only. As China is a developing country, it would be unfair to tell China to reduce its emission per the standard for the developed countries. China has very reason not to accept any unfair agreement. In terms of climate change, EU should strengthen its cooperation with China, and UK can play an important role in this regard. He stressed that UK needs a powerful partner like China, this is the message to be carried through this forum.

 
   

The audience rewarded the three speakers with warm reactions. Prior to the invitation from the host, some anxious audiences had stood up to ask questions. Ambassador Liu answered every question raised by the audience. He expounded on issues of common interest, such as the relationship between China economic development and environmental protection, family planning policy, reemployment of laid-off workers, China-UK educational exchanges and cooperation, promotion of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in UK, the situation of the Korean Peninsula, and elaborated on the Chinese stance and positions.

   

When one or two audience raised questions concerning individual human rights cases in Tibet, Ambassador Liu said that China is a country under the rule of law, and its judiciary authorities handle cases in accordance with law. Therefore, it would be unfair to criticise China’s human rights situation only because of a few individuals being sentenced to imprisonment. Ambassador Liu explained the changes in Tibet with a large number of facts, and pointed out that, before the People’s Republic of China was founded, Tibet had exercised feudal serfdom which was even more savage than that in the medieval Europe, its economy suffered long-term stagnation, and its serfs accounted for over 95% of its total population. Since the founding of New China, Tibet has experienced ground-breaking changes. And since the reform and opening-up, in particular, Tibet has been changing with each passing day. From 1978 to 2008, Tibet’s GDP increased to RMB 39.2 billion from RMB 665 million, up over 50 times; the Tibetan population increased to 2.81 million from 1 million, among which, Tibetans accounted for over 92%, and the average life expectancy improved to 67 years old from 35 only. Anyone who understands the situation in Tibet can see that this is an extraordinary achievement, and this is the genuine situation of human rights in Tibet. Ambassador Liu’s very reasonable answers received nods of approval from the audience.

 

Ambassador Liu Answers Questions

All the members of the Labour Party who were present at the forum expressed that this forum featured prominent themes and rich contents, that the speeches made by Ambassador Liu and others were characterised by explicit facts, accurate and abundant data and solid logic, and enabled the audience to gain a deeper understanding of and a greater inspiration on the new progress of China’s development and changes as well as the importance and necessity of further deepening the China-UK relations, and that the audience are fully confident about the future development of the relations between the two countries. They expect that the Chinese embassy in UK shall continue to host such activities so that the two sides can further deepen their mutual understanding, and jointly push forward the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

After the forum, quite a few Labour Party members were reluctant to leave for quite a long period of time. They came to Ambassador Liu, asking him one question after another. The two sides held enthusiastic conversations.

 

Ambassador Liu talks with the audience

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