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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Chinese New Year Reception for UK Education Partners: A Symphony of China-UK Educational Exchange and Cooperation
O2 London, 7 February 2018


Professors and Scholars,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

A few days ago I had the honor to accompany Prime Minister May on her successful visit to China. Now, it is a real delight to be back and join you at this special Chinese New Year reception for friends from the educational sector of both countries.

This is the first time that I host such an event. Let me first of all express my warmest welcome to all of you.

In nine days time, we will celebrate the Chinese New Year and embrace the Year of the Dog. Please allow me to take this opportunity to send New Year greetings to friends from the educational sector, both old and new.

I wish you a happy and prosperous Year of the Dog!

The year 2017 witnessed the consolidation of China-UK "Golden Era". It is also a year of thriving exchanges and cooperation in education between our two countries.

If we compare China-UK educational exchange and cooperation to a "symphony", its "main theme" is loud and clear: Such cooperation enjoys full government backing from both countries.

The fifth China-UK High-Level People to People Dialogue was a huge success. A joint statement was issued, which serves as a guide for accelerating and improving China-UK cooperation in education.

Our two countries also held the tenth China-UK Education Summit. The MOUs signed at the summit outlined the blueprint for future cooperation.

Secondly, with flourishing exchanges on all fronts, this "symphony" offers delightful "chords".

From research to teaching, from universities to primary and secondary schools, and from maths to PE classes, China and the UK have increased and deepened exchanges across the field of education.

  • The Oxford Institute of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences was established in the University of Oxford. This is the first time in its 800 years history that Oxford has a foreign university to set up a research unit on its campus. And it is the only one of its kind.
  • The Peking University HSBC Business School opened a new campus in the UK. This is a pioneering effort by a Chinese university to run a school in a developed country.
  • The cooperation on scientific research between universities of the two countries has been greatly advanced by the establishment of joint research centres. These include Oxford-Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research, the centre for education on scientific innovation set up by Cambridge and Nanjing, and the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey.
  • For the first time, the HarperCollins Publishers translated and published Chinese maths textbooks for use in primary and secondary schools in the UK. Up till now, over 500 maths teachers from the two countries have been on exchange visits through the China-UK maths teacher exchange programme.
  • The University of Manchester, the Loughborough University and the Bournemouth University have been active participant in the China-UK Campus Football and Rugby Coach Training Programmes.

Thirdly, the "symphony" of educational exchange and cooperation presents a "rich harmony" of mutual learning of language and culture.

The UK has the largest Chinese student community in Europe. The number of British students in China is also increasing. Now there are over 170 thousand Chinese students and scholars studying in the UK, and about 9,000 British students went to China for study. About three hundred of them are on Chinese Government scholarship. This number has increased by a large margin than the previous year.

Confucius Institutes is another highlight. Across the UK, there are 29 Confucius Institutes and 148 Confucius Classrooms, with a total of over 160 thousand registered students.

Seven Confucius Institutes were awarded "Model Confucius Institute", including the Confucius Institutes in the University of Sheffield, the University of Nottingham, the London South Bank University and the University of Strathclyde.

Moreover, over 600 British schools are offering Chinese language courses, hiring nearly 500 teachers and volunteer teaching assistants from China every year.

In 2017, I personally committed much more efforts to China-UK education exchange and cooperation. This has been an exceptionally bountiful year for me.

From England to Scotland, from Crown Dependencies to the British Overseas Territories, and from Oxfordshire to Nottinghamshire, I attended over 20 education-related events. My colleagues at the Education Section of the Embassy called me "Education Ambassador".

In all these events, I was deeply touched by the friendship of the British education community towards China. I could feel their readiness and enthusiasm to advance China-UK cooperation in education.

Last year, I had the honor to receive an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Nottingham. I can now feel an even closer bond with the British education community.

During Prime Minister May's visit, I had the opportunity to witness once again the fruitful exchange and cooperation between the two countries in education.

  • At her first stop in China, the Prime Minister visited the time-honoured Wuhan University and launched the 2018 "English is GREAT" campaign.
  • The two countries agreed to extend the China-UK maths teacher exchange programme for another two years, to facilitate joint training of pre-school and vocational school staff, and to improve information-sharing on vocational education.
  • The education agreements signed during the Prime Minister's visit exceed 550 million pound in value. They are expected to create 800 jobs in the UK.

In addition to promoting the "Golden Era" 2.0, the Prime Minister May's visit also effectively upgraded the educational exchange and cooperation between the two countries.

Panning for gold from grains of sand is strenuous work, just as it is arduous to harvest the "golden fruits" of China-UK education cooperation that we have achieved.

I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you present tonight whose relentless efforts are absolutely indispensable in what we have accomplished so far.

As we celebrate the New Year, I hope you will seize the new opportunities created by the China-UK "Golden Era". I hope the education sector of our two countries will join hands and work even harder to compose a new cadenza for the symphony of China-UK educational exchange and cooperation!

Thank you.

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