The Chinese Embassy in London held a workshop entitled “Post-Olympic China and its role in the World” in Manchester on the sidelines of the Labour Party Conference. This was the first of this kind organized by the Embassy at the party conference.
Ambassador Fu Ying chaired the workshop and delivered a key-note speech. Former Deputy Prime Minister Prescott, Work Foundation CEO Will Hutton, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office Meg Munn and Vice Chairman Stewart of All Party Parliament China Group (APPCG) came to the workshop and spoke. Labour grassroots members and other British people as well as people from the diplomatic corp. also attended.
Fu Ying said China-UK relations were one of the most important bilateral relations between China and the European countries. China and the UK keep regular dialogue and consultation on major international and regional issues and close cooperation in trade and investment, energy and environment, financial service, culture and education. Premier Wen Jiabao would have his third meeting in a year with Prime Minister Brown tomorrow in New York. As the world financial market is tumbling and economy growth slows down, it was more important for China and the UK to keep high-level dialogue and consultation. From January to July this year, British export to China grew by 40% year-on-year, exceeding the growth of China’s export to UK. Over 200,000 Chinese tourists came to the UK each year and 75,000 Chinese students study here. The common ground between China and the UK far exceeds their difference. So long as they respect each other and seek common ground while putting aside difference, they could have brighter future in their bilateral relations.
Fu Ying went on to say that both Chinese and British athletes achieved remarkable results at the Olympic Games and Paralympics that concluded not long ago. Olympic cooperation is becoming highlight in bilateral relations. When Prime Minister Brown visited China, sports authorities in both countries signed cooperation agreements for 2012 and both sides would provide assistance to the other in fields where they had advantage. China is ready to share the UK with its experience on venue building and match organizing. The Beijing Olympics had left Beijing and China enduring legacy in sports and environment. It promoted the care of the society for the disabled. It brought China and the West closer. But the Olympics did not changed China’s basic conditions. It is still a developing country and faces many challenges and difficulties. It will develop itself according to its own situation. It would not copy the western model.
Prescott and other guests congratulated the Embassy on organizing such a workshop. They thought it was essential for enhancing the mutual understanding between China and the UK. It was a pioneering endeavor by the Embassy and should continue. They also congratulated China on the success of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics. They said they were deeply moved by the passion and pride of the Chinese people.
Prescott said that China had made great progress in the past 30 years. Many regarded it as a super power. But the Chinese still thought they were faced with many challenges. They were working on narrowing the gap between rich and poor, promoting high-quality and balanced growth and building a harmonious society. The efforts and achievements made by China in this regard should be fully recognized. Some criticized China on human rights. They only saw a fraction of the whole picture. They forgot the erroneous road that Britain went in its course of industrialization. It was unfair to demand too much from a country still in the preliminary phase of industrialization.
Western democracy was not perfect. It arrested members of labor unions and restricted women’s participation in politics in the past. China’s gradual reform with economic reform going first is conducive to China’s stability. Chinese society was not rigid and out-dated. People have passionate discussion of the country’s future. The Chinese society will become fairer and more open.
The UK values its relations with China. PM Brown stressed on many occasions that China was indispensable in solving major issues of the world today, from economic to financial turbulence, from climate change to African development. The UK often asked China to solve such thorny issues as Zimbabwe. Some criticized China’s role in Africa. They did not realize that many African problems were left by colonial times. China’s cooperation on normal business terms is different with colonization. The UK and China might differ on handling some issues but the UK welcomed China’s bigger role in the world. There is broad prospect for UK-China cooperation.
Munn said that she was a sports fan. She was proud of the remarkable achievements of the British athletes at the Beijing Olympics. She was moved that the Paralympics were equally magnificent as China kept its promise of “Two Olympics, Equally Magnificent”. As the Ambassador rightly put it, the Olympics had enhanced mutual understanding between China and the world, brought them closer which was conducive to both China and the UK and the world.
It was one of the British Government’s priorities to develop its relations with China. The two countries established partnership in many fields. China played important role in the North Korean nuclear issue, solving regional conflicts, easing world economic and financial turbulence. China’s rapidly developing economy brought tremendous opportunity for trade and investment between China and the UK. China was becoming more welcomed in the UK. The high school that she attended now taught Chinese. The China Now which ended a month ago brought the Chinese culture to a climax. Of course the British Government, parliament and public were also concerned with human rights. They hoped that China would combine better economic growth with political freedom. But the UK had no intention to lecture China. It would continue to have sincere and objective dialogue and strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with China on major issues.
Hutton said that the westerners often ignored China’s weakness. China per capita GDP was less than 2500 US dollars, less than 1/20 of Britain’s. Poverty was still serious. China was faced with many challenges. China’s mode of development needed to be adjusted with enhanced coordination and balance. China needed to bring in power balancing mechanism, promote media and judicial freedom and independence. The West was not perfect in democracy, human right and rule of law. It should understand China’s challenges. It should not lecture China. It should keep contact with China. Help China through its transition smoothly confirmed to the interest of all sides. China’s position on Sudan, Zimbabwe, trade talks were different from 5 years ago. So long as we are sincere and modest, the Chinese will be able to listen. The West should not be afraid of China’s rise. It should not close its door. It should resist trade protectionism and help China cope with climate change.
Stewart said that APPCG was the largest country group in parliament. We were all friends to China, good friends. In the past 10 years I saw China’s progress and opening. The ambassador represented a new generation of Chinese diplomats, able to listen and confident in making its voice heard. This was an epitome of China’s reform over decades.
Fu Ying also answered questions on local exchange, China’s rule of law, climate change and space program. The workshop was lively with applause. Participants all said that Fu Ying and guest speakers enhanced their understanding of China and they hoped to hear more of China’s voice in the future.