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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks
Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at Harrow School: Know the Real China and Build A Bridge of Friendship
Harrow School, 19 September 2019

Headmaster Alastair Land,

Chairman John Batting,

Teachers and Students:

Good afternoon!

It is a real delight to visit Harrow, a prestigious school and home to numerous talents.

In my more than nine years as Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I have visited many well-known schools in this country. Every time I meet students like you with all your youthful vigour, I feel young myself.

Just now I visited Harrow's historical buildings, including the Old Speech Room Gallery. I was deeply impressed with the profound history, unique culture, academic achievements and global presence of Harrow School. I am also pleased to learn about the increasingly close exchanges and cooperation between Harrow and China, and the fruitful results of such endeavour.

Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to the UK in 2015. During that visit, he mentioned a number of famous names well-known in China. They include Winston Churchill and Lord Byron, both Harrovians. Another outstanding Harrovian, Benedict Cumberbatch, is popular among both Chinese and British young people for his rendition of Sherlock.

These famous names show Harrow's charm and strength. Their popularity in China reflects the vitality and potential of China-UK cultural and people-to-people exchange.

As Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I regard as my mission to advance such exchanges and to tell the stories of China. My goal is to help the British people learn more about China and win more support for China-UK cooperation.

Over the past nine years, I visited many places in this country, from Yell of the Shetland Islands in the North to the Channel Islands in the South. I have even been to the British overseas territories far away. Wherever I went, I could feel the deep friendship towards China, and I could see that more and more British people want to learn more about China.

What kind of a country is China? China is an ancient civilisation. Yet it is also a young country. Now I would like to share my views with you about the real China.

First, China is a time-honoured civilisation that is full of vitality.

The Chinese civilisation has more than 5,000 years of uninterrupted history.

I had been Chinese Ambassador to Egypt. Ancient Egypt had a recorded history that dated back to earlier than that of China. But unfortunately the civilisation of ancient Egypt was interrupted by foreign invasion.

The Chinese civilisation has made contribution to the world with far-reaching impact, including papermaking, gunpowder, printing, compass, astronomical findings and calendar.

China is also known for its ancient philosophers, such as Lao-tse, Confucius and Mo-tse, who lived at roughly the same time as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. These ancient philosophers had established a profound philosophical system and explored extensively into the relations between individuals, between man and society, and between man and nature.

Decades before Columbus discovered the Americas, Chinese navigator Zheng He had led his fleet on seven voyages down the coast of Pacific and Western Indian Ocean, and reached more than 30 countries and regions.

China is also a young country which is experiencing profound changes.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. In merely seven decades, the Chinese people, with their wisdom and hard work, have achieved remarkable success.

  • China has grown from an impoverished country to the second largest economy in the world.
  • More than 700 million people are lifted out of poverty.
  • There are 3,173 public libraries in China, and 9.5 billion books of various types are published each year.
  • Since 2013, China has ranked second in the world in terms of R&D spending.
  • China has also made remarkable achievements in manned space flight, lunar exploration, quantum science, deep-sea exploration, supercomputing and satellite navigation.

That being said, China is still the world's largest developing country. It is faced with daunting challenges due to imbalanced and inadequate development. Although China's total GDP is five times more than that of the UK, in per capita terms, China is less than a quarter of the size of Britain.

Despite of these challenges, China has the confidence and capabilities to overcome all the difficulties, build a better future for our country and create a better life for our people.

Second, China has experienced untold sufferings and cherishes peace.

In modern times, the Chinese people endured foreign invasions and domestic wars. Through relentless fights, in which tens of millions of people sacrificed their lives, the Chinese people finally took their destiny in their own hands.

During the Second World War, the military and people of China and the UK fought side by side against the fascists. The UK celebrates "Victory over Japan" Day, or VJ Day, every August, and China celebrates the victory of the war of the Chinese people's resistance against Japanese aggression on September 3rd every year. Our goal is the same, that is, to remember history, keep in mind past sufferings, and cherish peace.

It is because of such experience of being invaded and enslaved that the Chinese people especially cherish the peaceful life today; that China resolves to follow an independent foreign policy of peace, and stays committed to the path of peaceful development; that China upholds world peace in order to achieve development, and also promotes world peace through its development.

In international affairs, China upholds fairness and justice. It takes its position and makes policies in accordance with the merits of the issue. The Chinese people never impose their will on others. Nor will they bend to the will of anyone.

Since 1990, China has sent close to 40,000 military personnel on peacekeeping missions of the United Nations. China is now the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget, and the biggest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The Chinese Navy has carried out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia for more than ten consecutive years. They have ensured the safe passage of more than 6,000 ships, including British merchant ships.

Third, China embraces the world and takes up its responsibilities.

After the 18th century, China had lagged behind due to the closed-door policy. Since the founding of New China, especially since the beginning of reform, China has made opening up its basic national policy. China has welcomed foreign investment and explored the global market. In this process, China has been become part of the economic globalisation.

Since acceding to the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has fulfilled its duty faithfully and fully. It is now the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries and regions.

China also engages deeply in regional trade and economic cooperation. It has signed 17 free trade agreements with 25 countries and regions, which have effectively, promote trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation.

Between China and the UK, we have deepened cooperation on infrastructure, education, culture, science, technology, innovation, financial services and clean energy. This has delivered win-win results and promoted common development.

China actively integrates with the existing international system. It has joined almost all important inter-governmental international organisations and signed more than 300 international conventions.

China shoulders its international responsibilities and performs its duty faithfully by taking an active part in international cooperation on climate change, counter-terrorism and cyber security.

China also plays an important role on international hot-spot issues such as the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Iran nuclear programme and Afghanistan. It has become a staunch force for upholding multilateralism and promoting reform in the international system.

Moreover, China has vigorously promoted South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue, increased assistance to fellow developing countries and engaged in mutually-beneficial cooperation for common development.

Fourth, China is ready to share development opportunities with the world and pursue win-win results for all.

China's approach to development is not the selfish, "beggar-thy-neighbour", "I-win-you-lose" way. While we safeguard our own interests, we also believe in the need for and work to promote the common development of all mankind. We respect and encourage diversity of civilisations. This is all because the Chinese traditional philosophy values generosity and social responsibility.

For many years in a row, China has contributed more than 30% of world economic growth. It is now a major stabiliser and powerhouse for world economic growth. As China's economy shifts from high-speech growth to high-quality growth and with over 400 million middle-income population, expanding market and friendly environment for investment, China will offer more opportunities to the world.

In face of the numerous challenges in the world, everyone should ask this question: what kind of a world do we want? China's answer is this: we should build a community with a shared future for mankind.

The Earth is our only home. Everyone is a member of our global village, a community where countries are interdependent and share the same future.

China stands ready to work with other countries to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.

If we want to build such a world, what should we do? China gave its answer by proposing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

You may have all heard about the ancient Silk Road. It started from China, extended to Europe, connected the East and West, and covered tens of thousands of miles. For thousands of years, it had been a trade route enabling friendly exchanges between China and the countries along the route. It had been a splendid chapter in the annals of the exchanges between civilisations.

In 2013, China proposed to build a new silk road, that is the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which have since been known as the Belt and Road Initiative.

This Initiative enriches and gives a new look to the ancient Silk Road. It carries forward the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefits. It is aimed at achieving common development of China and all other participating countries, and realizing regional and global revitalisation. It gives wings to countries along the routes as they strive to achieve economic take-off, and enable them to move ever closer towards a future of peace, development and win-win cooperation.

In merely six years, BRI has become the most popular public goods and the largest cooperation platform in the world. It is stepping onto a new stage of high-quality development.

China has signed agreements on BRI cooperation with 166 countries and international organisations. It has also set up 82 economic and trade cooperation zones in countries along the routes. These zones have paid more than $2 billion in tax to host countries and created close to 300,000 jobs.

The UK government has twice sent a special representative of the Prime Minister to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. It is a natural partner of China in building BRI. In BRI cooperation, Britain's experience, design expertise and creative ideas, and China's development concept, technology and market make a perfect match. By pooling the strengths of our two countries, we will realise a multiplying effect in our cooperation and contribute our wisdom and strength to BRI.

Teachers and Students:

This year marks the 65th anniversary of China-UK diplomatic relationship at the chargé d'affaires level. In the past 65 years, China-UK relationship has forged ahead despite wind and rain. President Xi Jinping's state visit in 2015 ushered in the China-UK "Golden Era". Since then, cooperation between our two countries across the board has been advanced steadily. Looking ahead, China-UK cooperation enjoys a bright future.

You are among the best and brightest. You represent the future of China-UK relationship. President Xi Jinping said, "Young people are the mainstay of friendship between our people." I would like to share my hopes for you to build the bridge of friendship between our two countries.

First, I hope you will cherish the time of youth and strengthen your capability.

The founder of Harrow School established the principles of "Godliness and good learning". They contain the core values of "Courage, Honour, Humility and Fellowship".

I hope you would live up to these principles and values, work hard, take a down-to-earth attitude, learn the knowledge and strengthen your capability, so as to achieve academic success and grow to be the pillars of society in various fields.

Second, I hope you will learn to communicate and cement the foundation of mutual trust.

China and the UK differ in social system and cultural heritage. It is natural that we do not always see eye to eye. Sometimes there might even be misunderstanding. The key is to respect and learn more about each other.

Through mutual visits and exchanges, you will have a deeper understanding of each other's history and current situation, and learn to appreciate the differences between civilisations. I am sure you will grow to be envoys for closer exchanges, mutual learning, and harmonious coexistence between the Eastern and Western civilisations.

Third, I hope you will have the courage to be innovative and explore new frontiers.

Innovation is the spirit behind the progress of a country or nation. As the fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and graphene will bring profound change to our life.

In recent years, China and the UK have engaged in close cooperation on education, science, technology, culture and creative industries. This provides a broad stage for the young people to excel and succeed.

I encourage you to study hard today, engage actively in the future in China-UK cooperation on innovation, and take the lead in the trend of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Fourth, I hope you will adopt a global perspective and have a broad vision.

The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Mankind is faced with the crucial choice between openness and isolation, between progress and retrogression.

Both China and the UK are committed to upholding multilateralism, promoting free trade and open cooperation, and ensuring the robust, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth of the world economy.

It is important to keep to the right direction of history. I hope you will make your contribution in the years to come to the win-win cooperation and common development of the world.

In conclusion, I hope you will visit China and see the country with your own eyes. I hope you will have a more comprehensive understanding of China, and I am sure you will fall in love with the country.

I also hope that with your youth and wisdom, you will carry forward the friendship between China and the UK, live your life to the fullest and help build closer bond between the peoples of our two countries.

I look forward to your contribution to the China-UK "Golden Era". I am sure the world can count on your generation to build a better future!

Thank you!

Now I would like to take your questions.

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