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Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Scottish Chamber of Commerce Lunch: Seize the Opportunities to Take China-Scotland Cooperation to a New Level
December 2, 2019
2019/12/03

Chairman Tim Allen,

Ambassador David Valentine,

Ms. Liz Cameron,

Counsel-General Ma Qiang,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good afternoon!

It is a real delight to join you for the third time in the past two years. I wish to thank the Scottish Chamber of Commerce (SCC) for making today's event possible.

In recent years, SCC has been committed to advancing cooperation with China. Your efforts have delivered many positive outcomes.

  • SCC has set up its first International Trade Office in Yantai, Shandong Province.
  • And it signed a cooperation agreement with the Inner Mongolian General Chambers of Commerce during the 15th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention last October.

I am glad to see such a sound momentum in China-Scotland relations. I would like to borrow the initials of SCC to summarise the three features of this important relationship.

The first letter S stands for solid. China-Scotland relationship enjoys a solid political foundation.

Recent years have seen frequent high-level exchanges between our two sides. Senior Chinese officials have made successful visits to Scotland, including Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Party Secretary of Beijing Cai Qi.

In the other direction, top officials of Scotland have made equally successful visits to China.

  • Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, visited China twice;
  • Others include Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation of the Scottish Government;

These high-level exchanges have charted the course for China-Scotland cooperation.

  • Last May, Shenzhen and Edinburgh became the sixth pair of sister cities between China and Scotland. This has given a fresh boost to the regional cooperation between our two sides.
  • Last year, the Scottish Government issued its new five-year plan on cooperation with China, which provided new impetus to China-Scotland relations.

The second letter C stands for concrete. China-Scotland business cooperation has deepened and produced concrete outcomes.

In 2018, trade between China and Scotland reached 3.66 billion pound.

Last year when attending an SCC event, I was asked when average households in China could have Angus beef on their tables. Last June, during the tenth China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue, I, on behalf of the Chinese Government, joined the British Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in signing the China-UK Beef Protocol. Today, I am happy to tell you that British beef will return to the Chinese market from the end of this year.

Last month, Glenfiddich was well received by Chinese consumers at the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

More and more Chinese companies are making investments in Scotland. The Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, which has the investment of Beijing-based SDIC Power, was officially launched last August.

Shenzhen set up a creative industry incubation centre in Edinburgh and this was reciprocated by Edinburgh. The centres have already hosted a number of promotion events. They have become effective platforms for the cooperation between the creative industries of the two cities.

The third letter C stands for close. China and Scotland have seen increasingly close cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Across Scotland, there are five Confucius Institutes and 44 Confucius Classrooms; more than 40,000 students are learning the Chinese language. In proportion to its population, Scotland has more Confucius Institutes and Classrooms than any other parts of the world. In May last year, I unveiled a Confucius Classroom in the farthest north of Scotland, on the island of Yell, Shetland Islands.

At the same time, 13,000 Chinese students are studying here in Scotland. Some 20 Scottish universities have carried out exchanges and cooperation with Chinese universities. The University of Electronic Science and Technology of China and the University of Glasgow have set up a Joint Research and Innovation Centre. Earlier this year, this centre was officially launched.

The first direct flight Between Beijing and Edinburgh was opened, which greatly facilitated mutual visits between the people of China and the people of Scotland. In 2018, more than 200,000 Chinese tourists visited Scotland. That was twice the figure five years ago.

Moreover, the world-famous Edinburgh International Festival has attracted many top art groups from China.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It is also the 65th anniversary of China-UK diplomatic relationship at the chargé d'affaires level.

In the past 65 years, China-UK relationship has gone through an extraordinary journey and grown by leaps and bounds. This has provided a sound environment for China-Scotland cooperation. In my opinion, under the new circumstances, there are three major opportunities for enhancing cooperation between our two sides.

The first opportunity comes from China's development.

In the past 70 years, China has changed tremendously:

  • A secluded and backward nation has opened up to the world and achieved remarkable progress;
  • A country that could once barely fed and clad its people is building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects;
  • And an impoverished and weak country has gained prosperity and strength.

China is now the world's

  • second largest economy,
  • largest industrial country,
  • largest trader in goods,
  • and biggest holder of foreign exchange reserves.

China is deepening reform on all fronts and opening its market wider to the world. In the coming 15 years, China is expected to import more than 30 trillion dollars of goods and 10 trillion dollars in services.

As President Xi Jinping said, "China will open its arms to the world and share with other countries the opportunities of its market, investment and growth. Together, we can achieve development for all."

The UK is China's second largest trading partner in the EU. Scotland has unique advantages in such areas as education, science and technology, renewable energy, tourism and creative industry. There is a broad prospect for China-Scotland cooperation. I hope Scotland will work more closely with China. We could match our comparative strengths and achieve win-win results.

The second opportunity is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Six years after its launch, BRI has become a popular international public goods and a platform for cooperation. It has provided new impetus for economic globalisation.

Last April, the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was successfully held in Beijing. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in BRI development.

China is pursuing high-quality BRI development under the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It has signed 198 documents on BRI cooperation with 137 countries and 30 international organisations. It has also invested more than 100 billion dollars in countries along the BRI routes. These investments have helped create 367,000 jobs and 4.09-billion-dollar tax revenue in host countries.

The UK is a natural partner of China in building BRI. During the 10th China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue earlier this year, our two countries signed an agreement on cooperation in third markets. This has provided new impetus for deeper China-UK cooperation on BRI.

In April last year, SCC signed an MOU on BRI cooperation with the China Chamber of International Commerce.

It is my hope that Scotland will leverage its strengths and play an active role in BRI development. We could match our needs and deepen cooperation on international standard-setting, on green finance and in third markets. I am sure our cooperation on BRI will become deeper and more substantial.

The third opportunity arises from building an open world economy together.

Both China and the UK champion and support free trade and open economy. In fact, the concept of "free trade" was born in Scotland when Adam Smith laid down the theoretical foundation for modern free trade in his masterpiece The Wealth of Nations.

China is opening its market wider to the world, including in the financial sector. It will abolish completely the business scope restrictions on foreign financial institutions in China. This means new opportunities for China-Scotland financial cooperation.

Scottish financial institutions, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and General Accident, have already engaged in sound cooperation with China.

It is my hope that Scotland will seize the new opportunities and expand its cooperation with China in wider areas, at a higher level and in greater depth. At the same time, I hope Scotland will adopt an open attitude and provide a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies, such as Huawei, to do business here.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Hong Kong is an important partner in the cooperation between China and Scotland. In recent years, cooperation between Hong Kong and Scotland, especially in science, technology and innovation, has advanced steadily. One example is the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation inside the Hong Kong Science Park. There is enormous potential for Hong Kong-Scotland cooperation in areas such as FinTech, bio science and smart city.

In the past five months, however, the incessant radical violence in Hong Kong has trampled on rule of law, disrupted public order, severely undermined the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong, and challenged the principle "One Country, Two Systems". Such violent offences have pushed Hong Kong into an extremely dangerous situation. They have also put at risk the interests of 300,000 British citizens and more than 700 British companies, including Scottish citizens and companies in Hong Kong.

Last month, during the 11th BRICS Summit in Brazil, President Xi Jinping made clear the solemn position of the Chinese Government on the situation in Hong Kong. He pointed out that the top priority for Hong Kong is to end violence and restore order.

He said, "We will continue to firmly support the SAR Government under the leadership of the Chief Executive in governing Hong Kong in accordance with law. We firmly support Hong Kong police in strict and rigorous enforcement of the law. We firmly support the judicial institutions of Hong Kong in bringing violent offenders to justice in accordance with law."

He further emphasised: "The Chinese Government remains unwavering in its determination to safeguard China's national sovereignty, security and development interests, implement 'One Country, Two Systems', and oppose any interference from external forces in Hong Kong affairs."

This important statement is the most authoritative voice from the Central Government of China on the current situation and on the future of Hong Kong. I myself have explained the statement of President Xi Jinping to the British public on many occasions, including at the press conference at the Chinese Embassy two weeks ago.

I sincerely hope that the British people, including people here in Scotland, will bear in mind the larger picture and have a clear understanding of the current situation. I hope you will support the SAR Government in ending violence, restoring order and upholding the rule of law, resist and oppose any words or deeds that interfere in Hong Kong affairs, and do more things that are conducive to the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.

I also hope that the Scottish business community will have confidence in Hong Kong. I am sure that with the strong support of the Central Government and the leadership of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the SAR Government, Hong Kong people will overcome the difficulties and the "oriental pearl" will once again shine brightly.

Robert Burns wrote, "There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing." The Chinese people often say, "Anything is possible."

As the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, the international situation is full of uncertainties, so is the situation in the UK.

But there is one thing that is certain: There is enormous potential and a promising prospect for the mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and Scotland.

It is my hope that the business leaders present today will seize the opportunities and explore new ways for cooperation. Together we will open up new prospects for China-Scotland cooperation and take China-Scotland relationship to a higher level.

Thank you!

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