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
Chairman Graham, Secretary Fox, 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.