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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks > 2010
Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at Reception "to Refresh and Share Experiences of Studying in China"
(24 September 2010, Education Section, Chinese Embassy)
2010/09/25

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I warmly welcome you to the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy to refresh and share your experiences of studying in China.

My colleagues at the Embassy suggested I speak in Chinese for tonight's event. But I learnt that apart from British students in China, there will be many other friends and business leaders, who do not speak Chinese but are keen to promote mandarin teaching in the UK and offer funding for British young people studying in China. I am thankful to them for their commitment and support to China-UK educational exchanges. Naturally I cannot expect all of them to understand mandarin. We still need many more Confucius Institutes to spread mandarin wider in the UK. As Confucius said, "Going on a long journey, one must start from a short step, and climbing high, one must start from low." So I decided to speak in English today to make things easier for you to start, but I do hope one day we will be able to communicate in Chinese.

60 years ago, the first group of foreign students came to the newborn People's Republic. 9 years after that, the first group of British students came to China. Fast forward to 2009, over 230 thousand students from more than 190 countries and regions were studying in 610 Chinese universities and research institutes. The past 60 years have seen 1.69 million foreign students studying in China. Many of them came during the past 32 years of reform and opening up.

I hope you have spent some very nice time of your youth living and studying in China and brought back lasting memories. And I assume that for many of you, going to China might not be an easy decision to make. After all, the "mandarin fever" has only been a thing of recent years. You must have gone through a difficult time, trying to learn a foreign language and at the same time adapting to a totally different culture and environment. You may also have worried about your future, unsure about whether speaking mandarin will land you in a decent job. I also studied abroad in my younger years, so I can imagine how you felt when you were in China.

As Aristotle said, "The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet." Many of the British young people studying in China have gone through this bitter-sweet experience. They have now become leaders of their fields. Their knowledge and experience of China has also helped the British society to know more about China, and contributed to stronger business and cultural ties.

I am glad to learn that Dr. Endymion Wilkinson, former EU Ambassador to China, Dr. Frances Wood, Head of the Chinese Department at the British Library and H-J Colston, Director of the Chopsticks Club, are going to China as representatives of British students for the 60th anniversary celebration of foreign students coming to China.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that of all the events I have attended since I came to London, educational events account for the largest share. This is quite understandable, given the fact that nearly 100 thousand Chinese students study here. And the number of student visa applications grew by as much as 60% this year.

On my way back to London after a home leave in summer, I found that almost half of the seats on the plane were taken by Chinese students coming to the UK. There are now 12 Confucius Institutes and 53 Confucius Classrooms in Britain, attracting nearly 100 thousand British people last year. More than 100 pairs of university partnerships have also been set up between our two countries.

Education exchanges and cooperation are an important part of China-UK relations. We are committed to work with our British colleagues for a sound and steady growth of our relations, which serves the interests of both peoples and the world at large.

A flourishing China-UK partnership means promising prospects for studying in China and learning mandarin. You have proven yourselves to be far-sighted in your choice and decision. I do hope that you will serve as a bridge of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and contribute more to China-UK relations.

I also hope you will find time to go back to China and visit your alma mater to refresh the memories of your days in China and see the latest development in the country. I wish to see more and more British students going to study in China, bringing the current 3,000 per year to an even higher level. This will further strengthen the foundation for China-UK friendship and cooperation.

Before I conclude, let me put in an advertisement for our Education Section: The first "Study in China" Exhibition will be held in London in autumn next year. We look forward to seeing you again or your families and friends there.

Thank you.

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