Today is the fourth day of the Year of the Rooster. The feeling of celebration is still in the air.
In the Chinese culture, the rooster stands for renewed vigor and good luck. So I would like to begin by wishing everyone good health and prosperity in the New Year!
This is the sixth APPCG Chinese New Year Reception that I have attended since I came to London as Chinese Ambassador. Every time is very enjoyable.
Last year when we gathered here, no one would have expected that Britain would go through so many changes within just one year. The British people voted to leave the EU and Britain got a new Prime Minister and a new Cabinet.
Some say Britain has undergone a “political earthquake” and its future is full of “uncertainties“.
However, in the face of uncertainties the UK once again demonstrates to the world the strong “resilience” of the British people. After the Brexit referendum, the UK’s economy maintained a solid growth momentum far better than was widely expected.
We are also pleased to see that China-UK relationship is also showing “resilience“. Thanks to the concerted efforts of both countries, the relationship steadied in a time of transition and continued to grow:
- President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Theresa May had a successful meeting in Hangzhou. Both leaders reaffirmed our shared commitment to the “Golden Era” of China-UK relations and our global comprehensive strategic partnership at a new level.
- The dialogue mechanisms between our two countries ran smoothly:
- The Economic and Financial Dialogue
- The High Level People to People Dialogue
- The Strategic Dialogue.
- Also, our two countries held:
- The first China-UK High Level Security Dialogue
- The first China-UK Regional Leaders Summit
- The 9th China-UK Leadership Forum.
- There were notable outcomes of our financial and nuclear cooperation. China issued RMB sovereign bond in London for the first time. And China, Britain and France signed the package deal of Hinkley Point C nuclear project.
- People-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges received a further boost as our two countries commemorated the 400th anniversary of the passing of Tang Xianzu and William Shakespeare. We also began to issue two-year multi-entry visas to each other’s nationals and increased flight capacity to facilitate mutual visits.
- On global issues, China and the UK have showed our strong sense of responsibilities as big nations. We worked closely together within the G20 and at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. We had effective communication and cooperation on global governance, climate change, free trade, sustainable development, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism.
The parliamentary exchanges between our two countries have also maintained a sound momentum:
- Last year, the APPCG sent two delegations to China
- Delegations from China’s National People’s Congress, the Chinese People’s Political Consultation Conference, the Ministry of Supervision and other political parties also visited the UK for exchanges with the British Parliament
These visits enabled exchange of views and experience sharing between the two sides over issues such as the economy, rule of law, judicial reform and anti-corruption.
I myself joined the APPCG discussions twice last year to answer your questions, share views, build trust and promote cooperation.
2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the ambassadorial diplomatic relations between China and the UK. This is good moment to review the bilateral relationship in the past and outline the vision for the future:
- Over the past 45 years, China-UK relations have seen remarkable achievements despite some ups and downs.
- Looking into the future, challenges still exist. But, we are confident that we are able to ensure the steady growth of China-UK relations in the “Golden Era”. This will deliver more “golden fruits” to our two countries and the rest of the world.
In 2017, the UK will start and proceed with the Brexit negotiation. Against this background, one needs to think seriously about how China and the UK could overcome the challenges. We need to work closely together and seize the opportunities to advance this “Golden Era” of China-UK relations.
I think President Xi gave us the answers when he said this in Davos:
“We should share opportunities and interests through opening-up and achieve win-win outcomes.”
He also said:
“In the face of both opportunities and challenges of economic globalization, the right thing to do is to seize every opportunity, jointly meet challenges and chart the right course for economic globalization.”
If we put these words in the context of China-UK relations, there are quite a few things that we can do together:
- First, China and the UK should begin looking into the free trade negotiation as soon as possible. We need to upgrade our business cooperation. We need to forge a more open partnership for trade and investment.
- Second, China and the UK should strengthen cooperation on science and technology, education and creative industries. We need closer cooperation involving all our industries, the universities and the research institutions in order to boost our respective economic growth.
- Third, China and the UK should stay committed to an open global economy. We must support free trade and oppose protectionism. We must stand for multilateralism and oppose unilateralism. We must advance a globalization process that is more inclusive and sustainable.
- Fourth, China and the UK should continue to dovetail our respective development strategies and strive for new progress in our cooperation under the “Belt and Road” Initiative.
All in all, Brexit will mean both challenges and opportunities. However, there is much China and the UK can do to build our global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century. There is huge potential to advance the “Golden Era” of China-UK relations.
My Lords and MPs,
The British Parliament plays a crucial role in British politics. Meanwhile, it is also an important player in building China-UK relations.
I have learned that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons is going to conduct an inquiry into China-UK relations. I hope this inquiry will help advance China-UK ties. I hope it will come up with good advice and suggestions for our bilateral cooperation. And I hope it will play a positive role in shaping our future relations.
It is also my hope, my Lords and MPs, that you will be all the more actively engaged in China-UK inter-parliamentary dialogues and exchanges in the new year.
I would count on your support for the cooperation between China and the UK across the board.
Let us commit ourselves to working closely to contribute to the “Golden Era” of China-UK relations!
In conclusion, let me again wish everyone a happy and prosperous Year of the Rooster!
Speech delivered at the APPCG Chinese New Year Reception on 31 January 2017.
Full transcript also available on the Chinese Embassy website by clicking here.