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Home > Ambassador Liu > Events > 2011
Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Lunch in Honour of British Delegates Attending the China-UK Young Leaders Roundtable
(16 June 2011, Chinese Embassy in the UK)
2011/06/17

The Rt Hon Liam Byrne,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Chinese Embassy.

I am reminded of an English proverb following your visit to China and participation in the second China-UK Young Leaders Roundtable.

That well known proverb is that 'travel broadens the mind'.

In my career as a diplomat I really know the value of that proverb. I have had the privilege of working outside China in the USA, Egypt, DPRK, now Britain, and of travelling to more than 60 countries.

Most of you gathered here are at an earlier stage in your careers. You have not had so much time for travel.

I do hope all of you gained valuable experience from this visit to China. In turn I sincerely wish that you share that knowledge to build understanding of China. As China rises it becomes ever more critical that China and the world understand each other. That is the path to a peaceful, sustainable and harmonious world.

I am told that the second China-UK Young Leaders Roundtable was a great success. I must congratulate you on the achievements of the event!

Also I must say how much I appreciate the hard work of our British organiser – the Great Britain-China Centre. Along with their Chinese colleagues at the All-China Youth Federation, tremendous teamwork has been displayed. Warm thanks should also go to the businesses, such as Standard Chartered Bank, who helped sponsor the Round Table.

For many of you I gather this may not have been the first visit to China. But I am sure it must be a very interesting and special one.

I was told that you went to Beijing and Inner Mongolia. Also that you gained first-hand experience about China's modern cities and its pastoral areas

In addition I learned how you studied two great men in our respective histories – Dr Sun Yat-sen and John Maynard Keynes.

I was briefed that through studying their lives you analysed the historical and cultural traits of our countries. You then used this as a foundation to explore where our countries may be heading.

I gather that you ran two interesting simulations based on the Da Vinci Code and Trade Wars. These exercises were designed to impress why inter-cultural exchanges are so necessary. In turn that highlights why the China-UK partnership is so crucial.

Today I wish to build upon your experiences in China. I propose to do this by posing you three questions. In turn these questions may help renew your memory about China, and hopefully provoke some thoughts.

This is the first question. How do we perceive China under the leadership of the Communist Party?

For Chinese people this is a straightforward question.

But I recognise that the question has been a puzzle that has been bothering China-West relations over the years.

In just two weeks' time, the Communist Party of China will celebrate its 90th birthday. It has been a ruling party in China for 62 years.

Also it has been 40 years since China and the West reestablished relations.

And the 'Cold War' ended over 20 years ago.

But regrettably, the 'Cold-War' mentality is still casting its shadow as the West looks at China under the leadership of the Communist Party.

This 'Cold-War' mentality hampers the building of trust and respect, which has to underpin all global collaboration. It makes it a serious challenge to make progress on trade and investment and on global issues such as climate change, global financial systems and nuclear safety. It results in prejudice and unfair accusations against China.

I believe to understand a country, it is important to look with an open mind. It requires study of actual policies both at home and abroad. This is especially true when it comes to understanding China.

For too many people in the western world the mere mention of the word 'Communism' induces an immediate mental block. That prevents an open examination of the impact of 'Communism' as it has been applied in China.

An open mind would immediately grasp the benefits that the Communist Party in China has brought. Over the past three decades the Communist Party in China has brought economic advances unprecedented in the history of the world.

That Chinese economic strength has had profound consequences in the wake of the recent financial crisis to hit the western world. The global economy could have been plunged into a far deeper crisis if China had not acted. Those actions manifested themselves as China emerged to rank as the world's second biggest economy and the largest exporter.

In turn a China led by the Communist Party is committed to revitalising the country domestically.

The first half of the 20th century saw the Communist Party lead the Chinese nation to secure its first historical mission – independence and national liberation. The Communist Party reunited China after decades of chaos and extreme deprivation for the Chinese people.

Today the Party is leading the nation and its people towards prosperity – a second historical mission China has to accomplish. No government in the history of the world has taken so many hundreds of millions out of poverty. And that has been achieved in only a few decades.

Over the past three decades and more, China has been committed to reform and opening up. This has set China on a path to development suited to China's realities. The result has been remarkable achievements and progress in China

Internationally, China is committed to peaceful development. China will be totally misunderstood by those who choose to compare it to the former Soviet Union and its interpretation of 'Communism'.

China has no intention to seek hegemony in the world.

China does not favour an arms race.

China has no ambition to export any ideologies.

China pursues unswervingly peaceful development. That means an independent and peaceful foreign policy.

China is engaged in extensive international cooperation. The Chinese Government advocates a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity.

China's development presents opportunities to the world – certainly not threats.

China is a player and contributor in the international system - not an outsider. The last thing China can be accused of is being a saboteur of global peace and harmony.

A political party that has managed to lead its nation to such historically unprecedented revitalisation deserves respect. A country so committed to national development and international peace has earned the right to be trusted.

Confucius is quoted as saying that 'harmony can be won without uniformity'. In other words we do not all have to be identical in government systems in order to secure global peace and harmony.

China's differences with the West in political system and ideology should not stand in the way of cooperation. All we need to do to advance together is to be inclusive and accommodating. We must abandon attempts to contain or convert.

(Ambassador Liu Talks with Shadow Secretary Liam Byrne)

Turning to the second of my three questions for you today. That is about how media in this country presents China to the public.

I talk about the British media with some of my friends in this country. They always say: "Don't take British media too seriously!"

Let me give you an example of my confusion about the priorities of the British media. The example is the analysis and coverage of the publication of China's 12th Five Year Plan.

As you will know this very important Plan was published a few months ago. In China and the international media there was very extensive discussion about China's 12th Five-Year Plan.

However, the British media seemed indifferent. Instead the British media became incredibly obsessed with a so-called Chinese 'protest artist'.

The British government repeatedly stresses the welcome for Chinese businesses in the UK. That welcome has been successful, as the UK has become the top EU destination for Chinese investment. From my observations that welcome message from the British Government is not reflected in the UK media. Instead a news story warned the British business community of the so-called Communist spies within Chinese investors. The British media even suggested restrictions over Chinese investment in the UK.

In your travels in China you will have been aware of the scale of the growth of the internet industry in China. One leading British analyst in China is predicting the next internet innovations worldwide will come from China. But the UK media in this country runs stories that the Chinese government and military are the masterminds behind web hacking worldwide.

Why in the reports of the British media does China attract such negative coverage?

Why do the stories not reflect the reality of what is happening in China today? According to a top economist of the British Standard Chartered bank, China is experiencing an 'industrial revolution' with many years to run and this revolution offers British businesses tremendous opportunities. It is my sincere wish that they could learn more about this in the British media.

There is much to be positive about in my country. But, China is indeed confronted with challenges of one kind or another in its way forward.

But China is also doing all it can to overcome these challenges and bridge the differences.

China does not expect everybody in the world to applaud its progress. But China certainly does not wish to be treated as if it were a 'different species'.

I arrived in London as the Ambassador of China 16 months ago. In that period I have written several articles in major newspapers. Through these I wanted to tell the British public more about China's development, foreign policy and its relations with the UK.

But a better understanding about China requires much more than what I can do.

That is why I am heartened by the Times article of retired Lieutenant-General Sir Graeme Lamb. He has recently led a senior delegation of British veteran generals to China. After that trip, he wrote: "We should talk to China, not demonise it. … The danger lies in making a new enemy. … China's absolute priority remains economic growth…and China's most recent move on the international stage was a positive one. … When it comes to relations with the Chinese, … it's good to talk. That applies to both sides."

I do hope that voices like this will get louder in the British media.

All present today are just back from China. My hope is that you will translate what you see and feel about China into newspaper and web comments. That will help people in this country know more about what China is really like.

My third and last question is how we take China-UK relations forward.

The coalition government has been in place for over one year now. I am glad to say that China-UK relations are in good shape.

We have seen regular exchange of high-level visits, fruitful cooperation and smooth dialogue and communication. But we are also aware of the issues in our relations that need to be tackled properly. I believe that all we need is to continue to work closely, grasp opportunities, overcome challenges and deepen cooperation.

I will use this analogy to describe how I believe we can further China-UK relations. The analogy is like driving a car well. Here are the three 'driving' points to bear in mind:

One, keep to the right direction.

China and the UK are partners, not rivals. The comprehensive strategic partnership is the one thing we need to strengthen. This ensures close dialogue and coordination at the top level.

In turn that leads to:

  • Enhanced dialogue and cooperation in international affairs.
  • Expanded cultural exchanges
  • And increased mutual understanding between our people.

By working together, we will strive to double China-UK trade by 2015 to reach 100 billion US dollars.

Driving point two.

We must make sure there is enough horsepower.

Various sectors of both China and the UK have shown a keen interest and potential to cooperate. We need to hit the accelerator and facilitate more substantive results.

For instance, China and the UK take economic restructuring and growth as their top priority. Both hope to increase exports and mutual investment.

We should work for significant improvement in the quality of our business ties through more flagship projects. For example, like the MG6, and more businesses like Huawei that has set up its European headquarters in the UK.

Cooperation in technology and innovation is also key, such as with eco-cities and low-carbon buildings.

Driving point three.

Take care to check the condition of the road. A smooth road trip does not just depend on how good the car is, but also the road.

China-UK relations also need a fast and smooth road, or an environment conducive to cooperation.

To be specific, it means deepening political mutual trust:

  • That means bringing into full play the primary role of government.
  • It requires taking seriously the other's legitimate concerns.
  • We need to remove obstacles to cooperation.
  • We must create the right conditions.
  • Dialogue must be conducted based on equality and mutual respect to handle differences.
  • Also popular support for cooperation in both countries needs to be strengthened.

Reflecting on our high level dialogue, I am pleased that Premier Wen Jiabao is coming for an official visit very soon.

Premier Wen Jiabao will be the most senior Chinese leader to visit the UK since the coalition government was formed.

This is no doubt a rare opportunity and a strong boost for our relations. We in China are ready to work with our British partners to make the visit a success and bring the relationship to a new level.

Before I conclude, I wish the China-UK Young Leaders Roundtable ever greater success in the future, fostering deeper friendship and understanding between China and the UK!

Thank you.

(Ambassador Liu Poses with some of the British Delegates)

※                ※               ※

    Committed to increasing youth exchanges and dialogue between China and the UK, the China-UK Young Leaders Roundtable is co-hosted by the All-China Youth Federation and Great Britain-China Centre and focuses on economic and social development, core values, cultural differences and the art of leadership. The first Roundtable was held in London in October 2010, and the second was held in China late May this year. The British delegation was composed of MPs, young political leaders, business leaders and representatives of think tanks.

    Ambassador Liu hosted a lunch in honour of British delegates attending the second Roundtable and delivered the above speech. Head of the British delegation and Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Rt. Hon. Liam Byrne talked about how he felt about the visit to China: First, thanks to the warm hospitality and thoughtful arrangements of the Chinese host, the British delegates felt at home wherever they went, and the Roundtable was dynamic, lively and creative; Second, the two sides had friendly exchanges and candid dialogue. Young people from the two countries had in-depth exchange of views on economic, political and social issues in the UK and China without shying away from their differences or the challenges they face in development. The Roundtable was all about practical and open dialogue; Third, the delegation visited inland China and gained a more comprehensive understanding of the country. While a visit to Beijing showed them the tremendous changes of the city, a visit to the border areas enabled them to examine the economic situation there. They admired the great success China has achieved and learnt more about the 12th Five-Year Plan.

    Ambassador Liu also talked to British delegates at the lunch about how to expand China-UK business cooperation and how to build public opinion conducive to China-UK relations.   

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