On 31 December 2018, the Daily Telegraph published a signed article by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming entitled “Chinese development is not a threat to UK”. The newspaper’s website also published the article under the title “China’s reform heralds a bright new future”. The full text is as follows:
China’s Reform Heralds a Bright New Future
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. Forty years may be short compared with human history, but the past four decades have been a splendid chapter for us. How did we manage to pull ourselves away from the verge of economic collapse and become the second largest economy in the world? How did this country of more than one billion, that was barely providing food and clothing to its people 40 years ago, lift 740 million people out of poverty and contribute over 70 per cent of the world’s total poverty reduction? The answer lies in the audacity of the Chinese people.
First, it is their determination to stick to the development path. The Chinese people remain committed to socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. Despite numerous difficulties and challenges in the early years of reform, China unveiled its three-step blueprint for basic socialist modernisation, to which billions of Chinese people have resolutely and persistently adhered. This is why China has been able to catch up with those at the forefront of the times, and create this miracle in the history of human development.
Second, it is their ability to reform and innovate, and take control of these fundamental forces driving human progress. The Chinese people know all too well that as history moves on, those who refuse to innovate will be left behind. They also know that there is no textbook to follow but trial and error – “crossing the river by feeling the stones”. Over the past 40 years, bold experiments have combined with top-level innovations in ideas, theories, practice and institutions, which has seen China improve its system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and remove systemic and institutional obstacles hindering development. This has in turn emancipated productive forces, brought out the dynamism of the labour force, knowledge, technology, management and capital, and stimulated the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of the Chinese people.
Third, it is their ability to endure hardships. As the Chinese saying goes, “smooth and glossy jade is created by hard grinding”. China’s GDP has been growing at an average annual rate of about 9.5 per cent and has increased by 33.5 times over the past 40 years. It now stands at $12 trillion (£9.4 trillion) and accounts for 15.2 per cent of the world’s total, compared with 1.8 per cent 40 years ago. Disposable income has increased by 22.8 times; average life expectancy is up from 67.8 in 1981 to 76.7 in 2017; and the world’s largest social security system has been established, covering old-age pensions, healthcare, allowances and welfare housing. These achievements are neither windfalls nor hand-outs. They are the result of the persistent efforts of the Chinese people.
Fourth, it is their readiness to embrace the world. In the past 40 years, China has hosted more than $2 trillion (£1.6 trillion) of foreign direct investment, made $1.9 trillion outbound investment, become the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries and contributed to 30 per cent of global growth. From establishing the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone to becoming a member of the WTO, opening coastal and border areas to developing the western inland region, setting up pilot free trade zones to building the Belt and Road, China has turned from a closed country to an open one.
The 40 years have also seen the China-UK relationship making steady progress. China’s plan to deepen reform and open its market further to the world matches well with the UK’s goal of building a “global Britain”. China and the UK should always see each other’s development as opportunities rather than challenges, still less threats, and refrain from undermining each other’s core interests. It is also important that China and the UK, as responsible members of the international community, uphold fairness and justice, stand against protectionism and unilateralism, and join hands to build an open world economy.
At the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up, President Xi Jinping pointed out that the Chinese people have the courage to dream big and the Chinese nation has the audacity to reform and stay open. A China that stays committed to reform and opening-up will make a greater contribution to the progress of human civilisation.