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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks > 2014
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming's Address at Dinner of the China-UK Business Leaders' Innovation Forum
(McLaren Technology Centre, 3 June 2014)

Mr. Ron Dennis,

Mr. Dong Wenbiao,

Business Leaders,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Evening.

I wish to start by renewing my congratulations to our host this evening Mr. Ron Dennis, Chairman of the British East Asia Council and British Business Ambassador, his Summit Co-Chairman Mr. Dong Wenbiao, as well as the organisers and sponsors of the event.

The topic for today's event, "Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Innovation" is a very apt one.

Though I did not join your discussion this afternoon, I know you have had a very successful session.

Tonight I wish to offer you three observations on the subject:

My first observation is that, innovation needs a good knowledge of oneself, that is to know:

· Where we are.

· Where we are strong.

· And where we are not so strong.

It is the same for an enterprise and for a nation.

China and the UK have both contributed enormously to human civilisation. This has been achieved with our contrasting strengths and in different ways.

We Chinese traditionally focus more on experience. We are generally good at qualitative and inductive reasoning.

The British people have done a great job in discovering the laws of nature. From my observations, people in Britain excel at quantitative and deductive reasoning.

Our two nations are like mirrors for one another. From each other we can see where we are strong, and where we are not.

The second observation is that, innovation needs a high level of knowledge of the other side, be it your partner or your opponent.

In a cross-border, cross-cultural context, a golden rule is to command the humility to listen and understand.

I give you one example here:

The ATM machine was first invented by a British whose name is John Shepherd-Barron. It was introduced into China in late 1980s, 20 years later than Britain, but the growth since has been phenomenal. Now China has the largest ATM market in the world.

The story of ATM does not end with Britain being the inventor and China being biggest producer and user. It is also about how the ATM is used.

Here in the UK, cash comes out after the card. If more services are needed, one has to go all over again.

But in China it's the other way round. One can do withdrawal, deposit, transfer, utility and phone bill payments, all in one go. One would say the Chinese way is more convenient. However, it makes it much more likely for people to forget getting the card after mission accomplished!

This example shows our respective strength as innovation and manufacturing powerhouse and the upside and downside of our different ways of thinking and doing things.

In innovation, we need to work out ways to combine our strengths and mend our weak links.

My third and last observation is that innovation goes further with partners.

Innovation is not only about products, or technologies. It should not stop at the wall or gate of individual companies.

By forging a partnership of innovation, China and the UK can better mobilise resources and talents for mutual benefit.

We can join hands to promote innovations on rules and institutions, on models of growth and research. When combined, these efforts will open up huge possibilities for both countries.

It is a very positive development that both China and UK have already recognised the importance of co-operation on innovation.

During Prime Minister Cameron's visit to China last year, the Chinese and British governments agreed on setting up a 200-million-pound joint research and innovation fund.

This kind of innovation cooperation between our governments, enterprises and research institutions promises a very dynamic future.

Those three points, I believe, work in other fields of our bilateral engagements too.

In conclusion, I wish this Summit great success during its next three days.

I hope to learn of fewer limitations and more creative ideas and business visions by the end of this week.

I am sure in that same spirit, you will contribute to the growth of China-UK cooperation in your own many innovative ways.

Thank you!


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