Write a New Chapter of China-UK Relations
– Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the APPCG Chinese New Year Reception
Palace of Westminster, 21 February 2018
My Lords and MPs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to join you at the APPCG Chinese New Year Reception for the eighth time in a row.
During my eight years as Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I did not miss a single APPCG Chinese New Year Reception. I have outdone all the other Chinese Ambassadors before me. And I take great pride in setting this record.
What gives me greater pride is bearing witness to the growth of our two countries and the progress of China-UK relations over the past eight years.
Last year, the changes were extraordinary.
In the UK, you had the snap election, you began the negotiations to leave the EU, and you stepped into a new historic stage of building a “global Britain”.
In China, we held the successful 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, we started a new era for building socialism with Chinese characteristics and we embarked on a new path of building a modern socialist country on all fronts.
For China-UK relations, 2017 was also a significant year. Our two countries celebrated the 45th anniversary of ambassadorial diplomatic ties, and we consolidated the China-UK “Golden Era”.
Now, with your permission, I would like to borrow the acronym of your group and summarize China-UK relations in 2017 as “APPCG”. Let me explain.
A is for assurance, that is, mutual assurance of our strategic consensus.
President Xi and Prime Minister May had a successful meeting during the G20 Hamburg Summit.
Premier Li and Prime Minister May exchanged congratulatory letters on the 45th anniversary of ambassadorial diplomatic ties.
And the leaders of our two countries stayed in touch through phone calls and letters.
Through these exchanges, our two countries reaffirmed our commitment to the China-UK “Golden Era”, and consolidated our political trust.
P is for progress.
New progress was made in the cooperation between China and the UK in all areas ranging from trade, investment to innovation, and from nuclear power to cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
In 2017, bilateral trade in goods exceeded $79 billion. British export to China increased by nearly 20%, as China continues to be one of UK’s fastest growing export markets.
Chinese investment in the UK topped $19.1 billion, and British investment in China was over $22.5 billion.
The Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, which is a flagship project in China-UK cooperation, has entered into construction phase. And Hualong One technology has moved to the second stage of the generic design assessment.
The China-UK Joint Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation was signed. This is the very first such document between China and other countries in the field of science and technology.
The second P is for platform.
The platform for cooperation between China and the UK has been expanded thanks to accelerated cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.
Here are a number of a new highlights:
Chancellor Hammond attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in China as the personal envoy of Prime Minister May.
The UK became the first major Western country to sign the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road.
The Treasury appointed a special envoy to the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Expert Board was set up.
A total of £25 billion was pledged in support of Belt and Road projects in Asia.
The UK also joined China in announcing the establishment of a bilateral investment fund, with an initial capital injection of $1 billion.
The letter C is for consolidation, that is, further consolidation of public support for China-UK relations.
Fine selections of the Peking opera, such as The Phoenix Returns Home and A River All Red, appealed to the British audience and increased their enthusiasm for Chinese culture.
As we speak, 170 thousand Chinese students are studying here in this country.
Across the UK, there are 29 Confucius Institutes and 148 Confucius Classrooms, with a total of over 160 thousand registered students. This is the largest number in Europe.
The Chinese method of maths teaching has entered British classrooms. British enthusiasm for learning the Chinese language was huge, with over 600 primary and secondary schools offering Chinese language courses.
At the same time, the British culture has enormous appeal to the Chinese people. The Premier League and the British TV series and films such as Downton Abbey, Harry Potter and Sherlock have a large number of fans in China.
Then, there is the ever so popular English language, with further support from the “English is GREAT” campaign launched by Prime Minister May during her visit to China.
All these have given a strong boost to cultural and people-to-people exchanges between our two countries, and gathered more public support for our bilateral relations.
Now, we come to G. G is for the global issues where China and the UK enjoy broad consensus.
In the new era, the bilateral relationship between our two countries has increasingly taken on a more global and strategic significance.
Our two countries enjoy sound cooperation under the framework of the UN, the G20 and the AIIB.
We expanded our strategic consensus on major global issues such as free trade, global governance and climate change.
And we maintained close communication on international and regional hotspots including the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue and the Iran nuclear issue.
In the words of Prime Minister May at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet last year, China’s decisions together with Britain’s will “shape the world around us”.
So, that is my summary of “APPCG” for China-UK relations in 2017. Now let me turn to the owner of this acronym, the All Party Parliamentary China Group.
Since its establishment 21 years ago, the APPCG has made important contribution to China-UK inter-parliamentary exchanges. And through such efforts, you have helped to enhance understanding of China among the British public. You have worked for closer and all-round China-UK relations.
I hope the new year will see more frequent China-UK inter-parliamentary exchanges at all levels. I look forward to more outcomes from these exchanges and greater contribution to our bilateral relations.
My Lords and MPs,
At the beginning of the New Year, Prime Minister May paid a successful visit to China. Secretary Fox, Chairman Graham and I were with the Prime Minister and witnessed this productive and fruitful visit.
During the visit, the leaders of our two countries agreed to build China-UK “Golden Era” 2.0. This is a good start for China-UK relations in the new year.
Looking ahead, China stands ready to join hands with the British side to contribute to China-UK “Golden Era” 2.0.
First, China and the UK have everything ready to upgrade business cooperation.
In China, we are implementing the blueprint outlined at the 19th Party Congress.
We will promote high-quality development. To achieve this, we will deepen supply-side structural reform, advance industrial transformation, encourage innovation and increase input into green finance, energy conservation, environmental protection and clean energy.
We will also increase market access in the service sector and encourage international cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.
Here in Britain, you have a competitive edge in financial services, environmental protection, clean energy and high and new technology.
In these fields, our two countries can match our development strategies, deepen cooperation and deliver more “golden fruits”.
Together, we can make China-UK relationship an exemplar of win-win cooperation and common development between the East and West.
Second, we have everything ready to upgrade our cultural exchanges.
Both China and the UK are great civilizations. We take pride in being inclusive and ready to learn from each other.
Both our countries now stand at the entrance to a new historic era. The new era promises new opportunities.
Both our countries are pursuing the Chinese Dream and the British Dream respectively. As we set out to realise our dreams, we can support each other and grow together.
The British public have spoken highly of the 19th Party Congress of China and China’s development. There is a strong interest in learning more about China’s governance philosophy and policies.
While in China, we stand ready to draw lessons and experience of social governance and national development from Britain.
This paves the way for our two countries to increase the sharing of governance experience, to enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges and to make them work for the Chinese Dream and the British Dream.
Third, we have everything ready to upgrade our cooperation on global issues.
Both China and the UK are committed to upholding and promoting free trade and an open economy. We both have long benefited from them.
In 2018, China will mark the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up. This will be a moment to declare our continued determination to open wider to the world and contribute to an open world economy.
The UK has long been a standard bearer of free trade. Its vision of a “global Britain” is a renewed commitment to greater inclusiveness and openness.
In this context, there is a high degree of consensus and converging interest between China and the UK to uphold economic globalization, oppose protectionism and reform the global governance system.
It is important that China and the UK adopt a global vision. We must assume our duties by enhancing our cooperation on global issues, promoting global governance and contributing to peace and prosperity of the world.
My Lords and MPs,
The Year of the Rooster has delivered fruitful results. The Year of the Dog promises greater achievements.
Today is the sixth day of the Chinese New Year, known as “horse day”. According to tradition, this is the day for cleaning up the house and getting ready for spring plowing. In a sense, the whole year’s work starts today.
I sincerely hope that in the new year, the APPCG will continue to support China-UK relations, enhance our cooperation and promote the friendship between our two countries.
The Chinese Embassy will work with you as always. Together we can write a more beautiful chapter of China-UK “Golden Era” 2.0.
In conclusion, I wish you and your family a healthy, happy and prosperous Year of the Dog!