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Home > Embassy News > 2010
Communication without Distance and Cooperation with Consensus
China Forum of the Conservative Party Conference Hosted by the Chinese Embassy
2010/10/08

On October 5,although it was still during the National Day holiday, Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming set out for the venue of the annual conference of the Conservative Party in Birmingham to host the third China Forum, the last one held by the Chinese Embassy during the annual conferences of the three major British parties this year. At this Forum presided over by Keith Simpson MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Liu, Mr. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sports, Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Chairman of the International Office of the Conservative Party and Dr. Gerard Lyons, Chief Economist at Standard Chartered Bank delivered speeches and exchanged views with nearly 100 Conservative Party members.

(Ambassador Liu talks with Secretary of State Hunt, Mr Simpson, Mr Clifton-Brown and others)

Ambassador Liu started his speech by congratulating on the Conservative Party’s return to power after 13 years, which received a big round of applause from the audience soon livened the Forum up. The Ambassador then looked back at the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and UK at the chargé level and then at the ambassadorial level and the resolution of Hong Kong issue between 1950s and 1980s, in full recognition of the three historic contributions to China-UK relations made by the Conservative Party.

Focusing on the theme of the Forum, “how China and Britain build a stronger partnership”, Ambassador Liu explained with “3 As”. According to him, the first A is Anticipation, which means that there is a shared anticipation between China and the UK for closer relations. The coalition government has made it clear in its Coalition Agreement that it seeks closer ties with China, when Prime Minister Cameron expressed his desire to further China-UK relationship, during his recent meetings and phone calls with Chinese leaders. Foreign Secretary Hague also proposed the "partnership for growth" during his July visit to China. For China, the UK has always been an important partner. China hopes to expand the practical cooperation across trade, education and culture between the two countries and to strengthen the ties with UK on international affairs. This will not only promote the bilateral relations, but also benefit the people of the two countries and around the world.

(Ambassador Liu delivers a speech)

The Ambassador’s second A is Advantages, meaning that there are many advantages for the growth of the China-UK relations. Firstly, the two countries have no fundamental conflict of interests politically. Secondly, there are already effective mechanisms for dialogue between China and UK. Thirdly, the two countries have much to offer each other economically and have enormous prospects for future bilateral cooperation. Fourthly, China-UK cooperation in education, culture and other fields is thriving. In particular, the Shanghai World Expo has provided another exciting stage for exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

The third A is Action. Ambassador pointed out that as a Chinese saying goes, "A thousand-mile journey starts with the first step." A stronger China-UK relationship calls for actions in the following 5 areas: Politically, the two countries should strengthen mutual trust at governmental level and strengthen their strategic partnership. Economically, the two countries should identify priorities and promote flagship projects, assist exchanges between small and medium-sized enterprises, uphold the principle of free trade and reject protectionism. Culturally, China and UK must also improve the understanding between our peoples. Influential high-level cultural exchanges should be further expanded, to foster friendship amongst the young people of the two countries. Internationally, the two countries need to strengthen cooperation and coordination and work together to help resolve regional conflicts, advance multilateralism, safeguard the non-proliferation regime, address climate change, promote the reform of the international financial system and uphold nuclear nonproliferation. Lastly, the two countries should engage each other through candid dialogue. Ambassador Liu quoted the famous remarks of Sir Winston Churchill: "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." and pointed out that we need the courage to listen and talk when differences occur. We need the wisdom even more to bridge our differences and widen our common understanding.

Finally Ambassador Liu said that in UK, "conservative" doesn't mean upholding the status quo or opposing change. On the contrary, it represents the best of the country's traditions, discretion and a call for progress. As we now stand at a new starting point in China-UK relations, it is hoped that the Conservative Party will stay true to what "conservative" stands for and make a creative and bold effort for a friendly, cooperative and mutually beneficial China-UK relationship. Ambassador Liu’s speech received prolonged applause from the audience.

(Secretary of State Hunt delivers a speech)

Mr. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sports, started his speech with his association with China. He told some amusing stories on how he and his wife met and got married in China, and expressed that in spite of their differences in culture, economy and politics, UK and China share much in common. Culturally, both countries made significant contributions to the development of world civilization. While the four Great Inventions of ancient China directly influenced the development of the world, the culture of a modern China under reform and opening up shows even more vigor and vitality. The Beijing Olympic Games has been a remarkable success and it is expected that London can learn from Beijing the experience of this success. Economically, both UK and China are advocates for free trade. China's rapid growth over the past three decades has not only promoted its own development but also benefited the rest of the world. China has its own development model, which should be respected, not interfered by the Western countries. Politically, both UK and China advocate strengthened mutual trust and believe in a broad prospect for cooperation between the two countries on global issues such as climate change, anti-terrorism, African development, etc. Although the two countries have different understandings of democracy, it is an indisputable fact that the Chinese society is increasingly open. In today’s China, people are free to express their views on social events through the Internet.

(Mr Keith Simpson MP delivers a speech)

Mr Keith Simpson, who acted as the Chair of the Forum, agreed with the “3As” put forward by Ambassador Liu and made an impromptu response by proposing “4 Cs”, the four keywords for the China-UK relations: First, Conserve. The Conservative Party attaches importance to conserving and developing its relations with China. Second, Change.UK should adapt to China’s amazingly rapid development and change and move the bilateral relations towards positive changes. Third, Challenge. In the information age, how to better understand public opinion on the Internet and respond to what the people aspire for is one of the major challenges facing both China and UK. Fourth, Cooperation. Both UK and China advocate enhanced dialogue, mutual understanding and deepened cooperation in various fields.

(Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP delivers a speech)

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Chairman of the International Office of the Conservative Party, said that in his many trips to China, he visited a lot of schools and was impressed by how hard Chinese students work to learn English. In his constituency many educational institutions have established links with China.10 years ago, few Chinese tourists came to UK, but now they can be seen everywhere. UK and China should continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in education, tourism and culture. China will soon formulate the 12th Five-Year Plan, and UK expects to be actively involved in China’s economic development for common prosperity in the next five-year period.

(Dr. Lyons delivers a speech)

Dr. Lyons, Chief Economist at Standard Chartered Bank elaborated on China-UK economic relations from three aspects. As he put it, first, the West needs to renew its understanding of the scale and speed of China's economic development. China is experiencing an industrial revolution, which is influencing not only China, but also the world as a whole. Second, as China is working to build infrastructure, develop creative, environmental and pharmaceutical industries and improve financial services, UK should make use of its own advantages to seize the market opportunities in China. Third, UK should draw support from China's influence on developing countries and strengthen cooperation with China to jointly promote economic growth in developing countries.

After the speakers’ speeches, as soon as the Chair announced that the Q & A session started, the audience eagerly asked Ambassador Liu a series of questions on China's religious freedom, relations between China and Africa, China-UK cultural exchanges, China-UK educational and youth exchanges, China's financial system reform, the reform of RMB exchange rate, simplification of visa procedures for the citizens of the two countries, the participation of British Chinese in politics, the Myanmar issue, the WTO Doha Round negotiations, etc. Ambassador Liu, with his calm manner, ready answers and witty remarks, had a good interaction with the audience.

   

In response to the question on religious freedom in China, Ambassador Liu said that Chinese people enjoy full freedom of belief. The world's three major religions co-exist in harmony in China. The country now has 20 million Christians, equivalent to 1/3 of the UK population, and many people believing in Buddhism and Islam. For example, 1.18 million Muslims live in Gansu, the province with the largest Muslim population in China, where he used to work. Mosques are everywhere in Lanzhou, the provincial capital, and there are also Hui autonomous prefectures in the province. Ambassador Liu stressed that many of China’s 56 ethnic groups have their own religions, and that the Constitution and laws as well as governments at all levels of China fully protect the freedom of religion and belief of all ethnic groups.

   

In response to the question on China-Africa relations, Ambassador Liu remarked that China-Africa relations are for mutually beneficial cooperation on an equal footing, and that China’s assistance to Africa and China-Africa cooperation are to enhance the capacity of independent development of African countries. In 1970s, China helped to build the Tanzania-Zambia Railway despite its own economic difficulties and made important contributions to the local economic development and the improvement of the local people’s living standards. China has long been offering generous assistance to the African people. Over the past decades, the country helped build over 900 projects in Africa and sent to the continent more than 17,000 medical staff, who have treated 200 million patients.

Ambassador Liu stressed that China respects the sovereignty and development path of African countries. It does not interfere in their internal affairs and never attaches any political condition to its assistance. As China now practises market economy, in addition to government assistance to Africa, its enterprises also conduct win-win cooperation with African countries through normal commercial channels in the form of contracts. This is totally different from the Western colonial plunder of Africa in the past. The China-Africa cooperation is open and inclusive. China is ready to share with other countries its experience of assisting Africa's development, and is willing to draw upon the international experience of cooperation with Africa, so as to jointly promote the development of the continent.

     

A headmaster of a secondary school in UK said that he will soon lead his students to visit China, and that the students are actively applying for the trip despite its high costs. He hoped that Ambassador Liu can give them some words of encouragement before their trip to China. Ambassador Liu said that China supports youth exchanges between the two countries, as the young people are a country's hope and represents the future of bilateral relations. He hoped that more young British students can visit China and communicate with their Chinese peers to experience the colourful modern China. It appears that with the education of the school, the students know well the principle of “read ten thousand books and travel ten thousand miles”. The Ambassador believed that the trip will prove to be priceless even though it has a price.

(Ambassador Liu answers questions)

After the forum, Ambassador Liu gave interviews to Xinhua News Agency, Phoenix Satellite Television, Sing Tao Daily and other media.

On the same evening, Ambassador Liu attended the international reception hosted by Foreign Secretary William Hague and cordially talked with him. Mr. Hague welcomed Ambassador Liu for his first attendance to the annual conference of the Conservative Party and congratulated on the success of the China Forum held by the Chinese Embassy. He recalled with pleasure his recent successful visit to China, and said that the current China-UK relations are in a good shape, with Prime Minister Cameron’s upcoming visit to China as another important opportunity for the relations between the two countries. UK hopes that the visit will further promote the UK-China cooperation in various fields.

Ambassador Liu extended congratulations on the success of the Conservative Party’s annual conference and expressed gratitude for the support from the Conservative Party to the Chinese Embassy in holding the China Forum and for the active participation of Party members. He expressed that China attaches great importance to Prime Minister Cameron's first visit and believed that with joint efforts of both sides, the visit will be fruitful and promote further development of China-UK relations.

(Ambassador Liu talks with Foreign Secretary Hague)

※ ※ ※

From late September to early October, the Chinese Embassy held the China Forum respectively during the annual conferences of British Liberal Democratic Party, Labour Party and Conservative Party, at which Ambassador Liu Xiaoming had discussions and exchanged views with the leaders and ordinary members of the three parties on the topics such as how to view the further development of China-UK relations, etc. A total of nearly three hundred people attended the events and had frank and in-depth exchanges in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Many participants fully endorsed this unique platform for dialogue, and hoped that the Chinese Embassy can hold China Forum every year during the annual conferences of the three parties.

               

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