On April 16, 2012, Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong and UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt co-chaired the First Meeting of China-UK High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Liu said that the China-UK relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships and it is a type of interdependent partnership. Since the establishment of ambassador-level diplomatic relations 40 years ago, the connotations of bilateral cooperation have been constantly enriched, the levels of cooperation have been constantly upgraded, the cooperation in bilateral and international affairs has been increasingly deepened, and the comprehensive strategic partnership has gradually grown into maturity. At present, China-UK relations are standing at a new starting point. The two sides should seize the opportunity, promote the two-way trade and investment cooperation and strengthen the sharing of experience in managing state affairs. The two sides should boost economic and social development and work together for world peace and prosperity.
Liu pointed out that further understanding and consensus between governmental and non-governmental communities in wider areas and at deeper levels is required to promote the long-term friendship between China and the UK. The two countries should transcend the differences in social systems, historical and cultural traditions, and stages of development, eliminate misunderstanding and enhance mutual trust through people-to-people exchanges so that the friendship between China and the UK has a more solid social and public opinion foundation.
Liu raised four ideas on the building of the mechanism in principle: the two sides must proceed from a strategic perspective to set the direction for the mechanism, strengthen the top-level design, integrate all the resources and open up a new realm for the comprehensive strategic partnership; second, the two sides should respect each other, learn from each other for common progress, and handle differences in a rational and proper manner. The two sides should expand consensus in the course of exchanges and learn from each other in the process of cooperation; thirdly, the two sides should encourage the participation of different parties and leverage the roles of both governmental and non-governmental organizations so that people could really become the main participants of such exchanges. The two sides should build a better platform for governmental and non-governmental exchanges; and fourth, the two sides should pay attention to the actual results, follow a step-by-step approach, start with the easy part and then deal with the difficult part. The two sides should promote the people-to-people exchanges on a solid footing and identify key areas of cooperation.
Liu made recommendations on the people-to-people exchanges in six areas. The two sides should make good use of the educational ministers' consultation mechanism, encourage the cooperation between universities and research institutions and the educational cooperation at all levels; the two sides should launch the plans for strategic cooperation in key scientific and technological areas, establish the center for China-UK cooperation in technological innovations, and strengthen cooperation in the research into scientific, technological and financial innovations and strategies; the two sides should encourage cultural institutions and artists to carry out exchanges and cooperation; the two sides should strengthen the exchanges between film, TV and media authorities and promote the cooperation between the media, film and TV industries; the two sides should implement the MoU on the Sports Cooperation between the National Olympic Committees of China and the UK and the China-UK Sports Agreement; the two sides should deepen youth exchanges and strengthen the cooperative relationship between All-China Youth Federation, British Council of Culture and other related agencies.
Jeremy Hunt said that the mechanism of UK-China people-to-people exchange has become the third pillar of high-end exchanges between the two countries and it is bound to widen the existing solid relations between the people, deepen the more direct links between the people and bring more business opportunities to bilateral economic and trade exchanges. The UK is willing to work with China to continuously explore new opportunities of cooperation in education, scientific and technological innovation, cultural creative, sports, tourism and other related fields. At the meeting, UK Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne and Chinese Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping introduced the concrete ideas for the building of the people-to-people exchange mechanism. After the meeting, Liu Yandong and Jeremy Hunt signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Governments of China and the UK on the Establishment of the High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism.