On 10 September Ambassador Fu Ying attended the reception held by the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy for the Chinese teaching assistants who just came to Britain. Representatives from the British Council, HSBC and Department of Education joined Minister Counselor Tian Xiaogang and 95 teaching assistants for the reception.
Ambassador Fu Ying started by congratulating the teaching assistants on the Teacher's Day. She welcomed them to Britain. She said that there was a huge demand for Chinese teachers in Britain. She recalled being approached once after her speech by the head of British Association for primary and secondary schools and asked for Chinese teachers. She promised to send 100 teachers but the guy asked for 1000 instead. She expressed her belief that the project would grow.
Fu Ying said that relations between China and Britain were very important. In the early 1950s a number of British enterprises traveled from Hong Kong to Beijing and opened the door to China-British relations with trade despite the fact that there were no diplomatic relations between China and the West; hence bilateral relations were developed smoothly. After Hong Kong's return, there was no long any major difficulty in bilateral relations. The relations grew wider, deeper and more multi-faceted.
She said British export to China grew by 44% this year and China's export to Britain by 19%. There are 75,000 Chinese students in Britain. Over 200,000 Chinese tourists come each year. Cultural exchange between China and Britain become more dynamic. China's Central Ballet Troupe and Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe came to Britain with ballets Swan Lake and Hanging the Red Lanterns High and acrobatic ballet Swan Lake. It was a pioneering endeavor to dance ballet on shoulders. The British audience was deeply enchanted and tickets were all sold out. China Now program lasted for 6 months with 1,300 activities. 850,000 people visited the exhibition of First Emperor and his Terracotta Warriors with long queues every day. The British people saw China's prosperity and development from cultural exchange.
Fu Ying pointed out that there were also problems in bilateral relations, e.g. different views on some issues. Like the question of Tibet, the two sides differed hugely. The British people did not understand the profound sentiments of the Chinese nation and did not even know that Britain once invaded Tibet. They called Mount Qumulangma Mount Everest. They did not know who Everest was and how we regarded the name as a colonial legacy. The clock in BBC headquarters still referred to Beijing and Peking and they did not know that the UN used Beijing as early as 1977.
She stressed that asymmetrical information caused misunderstanding towards China. When the Lhasa riot occurred last March, there were many misleading reports and stirred the feeling among the British people. Of course China should take the lead to provide more information. After the earthquake in Sichuan, the Chinese media covered the quake in a timely, comprehensively and highly transparent way and showed the West a human side of the Chinese society. British people from multinationals to primary school students all donated and the Embassy received 2.3 million Pounds in total. This mutual understanding brought hearts closer. Communication and understanding can bring down all obstacles.
Fu Ying said it was not that China could not be criticized. There were many problems in China, e.g. social conflicts, wealth gap, environmental pollutions and etc. But China was improving itself. There were 200 million internet users in China with considerable freedom. There were negative contents on the internet but the main trend was good. Chinese internet users were active. She told the story of how people came to her help on the internet when she asked for treatment of her sick tortoise. The vibrant internet in China will be known to the British people gradually.
Fu Ying pointed out further that it was a long-term task that took efforts of generations to enhance communication between China and Britain and promote healthy development of the bilateral relations. Language was an important reason behind gap between China and the rest of the world. Teaching Chinese was to enhance communication and understanding between China and the world. By learning Chinese younger generations in Britain would be able to know Chinese language and culture, which was very important. She expressed her that the teaching assistant would be able to arouse interest among young people in Chinese and teach them philosophy and culture behind the words.
The teaching assistants said that they would work to introduce China and work for better mutual understanding between the Chinese and British people while teaching Chinese.