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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming spoke with Lord Jim O'Neill in the "Guangming Daily"--"Human society must shape a win-win future in response to the epidemic"

On 12 November, Guangming Daily carried an interview with Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and Lord Jim O'Neill on "Human society must shape a win-win future in response to the epidemic". Ambassador Liu also shared his views on China's economy & development philosophy, China-UK relations and building a community with a shared future for mankind. Find out below what the Ambassador shared with his host in the interview..

Lianbing Xiao:How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the human society?

Ambassador Liu: The history of human society is a history in which men have constantly triumphed over pandemics. The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the world and brought an all-round impact on human society. Its impact is still growing. I think it is at least reflected in the following aspects:

First, Covid-19 posed major challenges to human health. This pandemic is the largest of its kind human beings have dealt with in a hundred years. As of early September, it had infected more than 26 million people worldwide and took more than 800,000 lives. The pandemic shows that major infectious diseases are a severe challenge to human health and life security, and that the global public health system and capacity building must be strengthened.

Second, Covid-19 dealt a severe blow to the world economy. The pandemic resulted in a significant shrink of international trade and investment. The global industrial and supply chains are quickly adjusting, and the global economy is plunged into a deep recession. According to the predictions of the IMF, world economy will shrink by 4.9% this year and China will be the only major economy that registers a positive growth. Countries are gradually re-opening but global recovery remains tough.

Third, Covid-19 brought severe tests to global governance. Multilateralism, solidarity and cooperation should be upheld to either fight the pandemic or recover the economy. Unfortunately, there is a country that has put itself first, embraced unilateralism and protectionism, used the pandemic to accelerate its "economic decoupling" and stigmatize other countries and even touted a "new cold war". The global governance system built since WWII and the multilateral system are now under serious test.

Fourth, Covid-19 brought deep reflections on human development. This is not the first time that human beings have dealt with a global pandemic, not will this be the last time. The international community feels more deeply that mankind lives in a community of shared future. The more difficulties and challenges we face, the more we must build consensus and overcome difficulties together. The more suspicion and misgivings, the more we must strengthen exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations and promote common development. I firmly believe that mankind will eventually overcome the pandemic and usher in a better tomorrow.

Since the outbreak, China and the UK have joined hands in fighting the pandemic and have made positive progress:

First, we've maintained policy coordination. The leaders of the two countries communicated closely. President Xi and Prime Minister Johnson had two telephone conversations within more than a month and reached important consensus on strengthening cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.

Second, we've strengthened experience sharing and R&D cooperation. Chinese and British experts have in-depth exchanges of experience on epidemic prevention and control, and universities, scientific research institutions and medical companies of the two countries have continuously strengthened cooperation in virus testing, vaccine and drug development, and clinical diagnosis and treatment.

Third, we've provided material support to each other. At the critical moment of our fight against the pandemic, all walks of life in China and Britain reached out in a timely manner and provided valuable support to each other.

Fourth, we've promoted international cooperation. Both China and the UK support the World Health Organization in playing a central role in coordinating the global fight against the pandemic, support the cooperation within the framework of G20, and call on the international community to work together to provide support to the vast number of developing countries and strengthen tripartite and multilateral cooperation.

At present, the pandemic is still ravaging the world, and China and Britain can join hands to make new contributions to the global fight against Covid. China and the UK are at the forefront of the world in vaccines development, the two can strengthen cooperation in this critical area and push the vaccine to the market on an earlier date. China and the UK can also strengthen communication and cooperation through bilateral and multilateral channels, support the World Health Organization to play a central role in coordinating vaccine research and development, increase the availability and affordability of vaccines in developing countries, and actively explore trilateral health cooperation between China, Britain and Africa, and work together to advance global governance in public health.

Lianbing Xiao:The British magazine "The Lancet" objectively introduced the origin of the virus to the UK and the world with high professionalism. How do you view the role of professional media in the pandemic?

Ambassador Liu: The virus respects no borders or races, and solidarity and cooperation are the only option for mankind to overcome the pandemic. At this critical time when the very survival of mankind is at stake, the media is not only a disseminator of information, but also an advocate of global cooperation. In the face of crises, professional media play an irreplaceable and important role in publishing information, sharing experience, building consensus, and promoting cooperation.

At a time when some western politicians are shifting the blame to China, professional media represented by "The Lancet" published righteously the professional judgment and fair opinions of British medical experts, which pronounced a powerful response to claims that "China covered it up" and "China should be held accountable". The Lancet article can help the UK and the world understand China's contribution to the global fight against the pandemic, and help create a sound atmosphere for the international community to unite in its fight against the pandemic.

I sincerely hope that professional media can uphold a sense of responsibility and mission, and abide by the principles of objectiveness, fairness and truthfulness, send out a rational voice, mobilize the strength of all sides, and contribute to global cooperation in fighting the pandemic and contribute to safeguarding global public health.

Lianbing Xiao:Human society will enter the post-epidemic era. In your opinion, what are the characteristics of the post-epidemic era? What will change? How to view the impact of the epidemic from the perspective of turning crisis into opportunity?

Ambassador Liu: The world is witnessing dramatic changes unseen in a century, and the pandemic has accelerated such changes. Their overlapping effect is pushing mankind once again to the crossroad of progress versus regression, unity versus separation, and openness versus closure. But in general, in the post-Covid era, human society will see both opportunities and challenges, but there will be more opportunities than challenges.

First, peace and development are still the theme of our times, but new risks and challenges exist. Peace, development and win-win cooperation remain the common aspirations of countries despite the constantly emerging global challenges. There is one country that is standing against the trend of history, deliberately inciting ideological confrontation in the world, openly coercing other countries to choose sides in an attempt to pull a new "Iron Curtain" on the world and start a new "Cold War" and push the world into turmoil and split. Insightful minds across the world must stay highly vigilant and resolutely oppose such moves.

Second, the world has entered a period of turbulent changes, and the international landscape is evolving quickly and profoundly. Emerging economies and developing countries are on the rise and are balancing the power contrast of the globe. But the world faces more uncertainties, the interaction between major powers is accelerating the realignment of international political relations, the twists and turns of globalization are pushing the evolution of the world economic order. Traditional and unconventional security risks are testing global security governance, and the new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation are reshaping the global innovation landscape, at the same time exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations are advancing the development and progress of human society.

Third, China has become an important force for the progress of our times and will definitely make even greater contribution to human development and progress. Facing complex international situations, China remains a builder of world peace and is constantly injecting positive momentum to the changing international landscape. China is always a defender of the international order, and is constantly adding stability factors to the global governance system. China is always a contributor to global development, and is constantly providing strong driving force for world economic growth. China is always a provider of public good, and is helping developing countries as possibly as it can. History has proven and will continue to prove that China is better because of a better world, and the world will be better off as China develops better.

Lianbing Xiao:Pandemic knows national borders; virus does not distinguish between races. In the post-epidemic era, what consensus do you think should be adopted to promote the healthy development of the international community?

Ambassador Liu: The pandemic is a mirror, through which one can see a complicated international landscape. For the international community to achieve healthy development in the post-pandemic era, I believe the world has to engage the following:

First, uphold the consensus of multilateralism and oppose unilateralism and bullying. Unilateralism at present is on the rise, and one country in particular has placed its own interest above others, broken international contracts and withdrawn from international treaties, which severely threatened the multilateral mechanism and the international order mankind has built since the Second World War. The international community should take a clear-cut stand to uphold multilateralism, safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and maintain the basic norms of international relations.

Second, uphold the consensus of solidarity and cooperation, and oppose confrontation. Solidarity and cooperation are the strongest weapon of the international community in fighting the pandemic. However, there is a country that is shifting the blame to other countries and spreading the political virus to cover its own failure amidst the pandemic. It's also using the pandemic to play the game of political manipulation and incite ideological confrontation in an attempt to launch a new "Cold War", and this is categorically going against the tide of history. The international community needs to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, take a firm stand on the correct side of history and pronounce a loud objection to actions violating the trend of our times.

Third, uphold the consensus of mutual learning between civilizations, and oppose the creation of barriers. China has always advocated harmony with difference and diversity, and believed that different civilizations should respect and learn from each other and seek common development. Differences in political and social system shall not become barriers to exchanges of different civilizations. The international community must transcend the differences in region, race, history and culture and social systems. Countries must join hands instead of pointing fingers at each other, tear down walls instead of building new ones, stick to cooperation instead of decoupling from one another. Countries across the world must enhance mutual understanding and trust, promote harmonious coexistence, exchanges and mutual learning and common development of different civilizations.

Lianbing Xiao: During the epidemic, economic globalization was questioned. Who put forward the theory of economic globalization under what historical background? How is its development process? In the post-epidemic era, will globalization end? Will economic and trade exchanges between countries be de-coupled? What is the development trend of globalization?

Ambassador Liu: Economic globalization can date back to the great geological discovery in the 15th century. After WWII more countries and regions participated in the process of globalization. Over the course of this period, the theory of globalization was constantly improved thanks to the contribution of some well-recognized British economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Since the new century, globalization has entered into an unprecedented stage and has effectively advanced the world economy, in the meantime, as a result of globalisation, the polarization between the rich and poor has become more prominent. The coronavirus pandemic has obviously hampered the cross-border flow of personnel, and some western countries are using the pandemic to tout protectionism, and some even say "globalization is dead". To respond to such claims, I'd like to stress the following points:

First, the trend of economic globalization is irreversible despite the twists and turns it encounters. As an inevitable result and objective requirement of productivity growth, economic globalization is an irreversible historical trend. Like a thousand streams flowing into the big ocean, there is no way they could flow back into separate lakes. As a non-economic factor, the pandemic has caused an adjustment of the global supply and industrial chains, but this is only a normal phenomenon in the process of economic globalization. The general trend of globalization growing against twists and turns hasn't changed.

Second, the "economic decoupling" pushed by a few countries will lead to a result contrary to their wishes. International exchanges and economic interactions are the objective requirement of world economic development. In the face of the pandemic, some western politicians hold a zero-sum mindset – they tout "economic decoupling" and "bringing back the industrial chain", which will do no good other than undermining the openness, safety and stability of the global industrial chain. Like milking a bull, these counter-globalization moves go against the law of economics and will eventually backfire.

Third, the problem of globalization can only be solved over the course of developing globalization, and only open and win-win cooperation point the correct path forward. The more problems globalization faces, the more countries should enhance cooperation with openness, seek development with innovation, promote trade and investment freedom, and constantly improve the global value chain, industrial chain and supply chain. Countries must cooperate in technological innovation and result sharing, push economic globalization towards a more open, inclusive, balanced and win-win direction, and contribute to a more open world economy and build a community of shared future for mankind.

Lianbing Xiao: The concept of the BRIC countries was first proposed by Mr. O'Neill and actively promoted. Would you please talk to us about the inspiration behind this concept? Ambassador Liu,What's your comment on such concept?

Ambassador Liu: First, the concept of BRICS conforms to the trend of history. Lord O'Neill was forward-looking in proposing such concept as he keenly captured the rapid rising of emerging markets. Since the first BRICS Summit in 2009, the total economic volume of BRICS countries has risen from accounting for 12% of global total to today's 23%. Proportion of BRICS trade to the world's total increased from 11% to 16%, and BRICS countries now contribute more than 50% of global economic growth. BRICS countries have become an important force driving the evolution of the international landscape.

Second, BRICS cooperation has yielded fruitful result. Over the past more than 10 years, led by leaders' summit meetings, a multi-layered cooperation framework has been established amongst BRICS countries covering economic and trade, finance, agriculture, education, health and technology. The New Development Bank (NDB) was built as cooperation deepens. Facing the pandemic, BRICS countries actively advocated multilateralism and resolutely supported the important role played by the WHO. They have united in their efforts against the pandemic and demonstrated the BRICS spirit of solidarity and mutual support.

Last but not least, BRICS has a bright development prospect. BRICS cooperation has explored a new diplomatic path that features "dialog instead of confrontation, and partnership instead of alliance", setting an example for the international community. Looking into the future, BRICS will continue with the mechanism of leaders' summit, and intensify cooperation in political security, economic and trade, finance, people-to-people exchanges and public health, and jointly advance multilateralism, promote world economic recovery and political solutions to hotspot issues, and shoulder responsibilities for world peace and global development.

Lianbing Xiao: In response to the current China and international situation, the Chinese government has put forward new ideas for economic development. While continuing to participate in the global economic cycle, it will strengthen the internal circulation (supply and circulation) of the Chinese economy. What is your comment on this? Will the Chinese economy bring dividends to the global economy?

Ambassador Liu: China at present is fostering a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. This is a paradigm proposed according to China's development stage, environment and the changing conditions, and is a strategic decision to reshape China's international cooperation and cultivate new competitive edges. At a time when the world economy faces drastic changes with a pandemic unseen in a century, we need to give full play to China's enormous domestic market and the great potential of its domestic consumption, and add impetus to China's economy and drive world economic recovery by smoothing the domestic circulation. The new development paradigm does not refer to an enclosed domestic circulation. Rather it's an open, dual circulation both at home and globally. No matter how the external environment changes, China will unswervingly advance high-level openness and the open door will only be opened wider. China's ties with the world will only grow closer, and China will provide even greater opportunities to the world. I believe that the Chinese economy will bring about at least three dividends to the global economy:

First, the dividend of development. China boasts 1.4 billion people, 900 million laborers and 170 million highly educated personnel as well as a middle-income group of more than 400 million people. For 14 consecutive years China has contributed the most to world economic growth. Since the breakout of the pandemic, China has always coordinated epidemic control with social and economic development. The re-opening of the economy has been steadily carried out. China's economy in the second quarter grew by 3.2%, making it the first major economy of the world to register a positive growth amidst the pandemic. China's economic recovery will inject major momentum to the global economy.

Second, the dividend of sharing. China is actively implementing the Foreign Investment Law, relaxing market access, optimizing business environment and actively expanding imports and overseas investment. In the meantime, China is ensuring the smooth flow of international logistics and advancing the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative, all of which will bring about enormous opportunities to mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the world. The 2020 China International Fair on Trade in Services (CIFTIS) was successfully held in Beijing, through which China demonstrated to the whole world its unswerving determination and commitment to expanding openness.

Third, the dividend of innovation. At a time when the next round of technological revolution and industrial transformation are in the ascendant, China has already become a major tech power with global influences, and China's international cooperation in technological cooperation has constantly deepened. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), China ranked 14th in the Global Innovation Index 2020. For two consecutive years, China has ranked top 15 globally. China's 5G, AI, high-speed railway and mobile payment are booming with vitality. During the pandemic, industries such as "cloud office", digital economy and medicine and healthcare are growing with strong momentums. China will further benefit the world with its dividend in technological innovation.

Lianbing Xiao: A reflection of the past helps envisioning a splendid future. What are the exciting incidents in China-UK relations since the New China was established?

Ambassador Liu: China-UK relations have traveled an extraordinary journey since the founding of the People's Republic of China, in general, we've witnessed three "historic jumps" in our relations.

The first is the establishment of diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level. In 1950, the UK was among the first in the west to recognize the People's Republic of China. In June 1954, diplomatic relations at the chargé d'affaires level was established between the two countries, and this was the world's first pair of "semi-diplomatic ties". After a lengthy period of negotiation, the UK eventually came to the recognition that "Taiwan is a province of the People's Republic of China". The two officially established ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations on March 13, 1972.

The second is the successful settlement of the Hong Kong issue. In 1984, the Sino-UK Joint Declaration on the Issue of Hong Kong was signed. In 1997, Hong Kong returned to its motherland after being colonized for more than 100 years. The settlement of the Hong Kong issue cleared the historical obstacles standing in the way of China-UK relations, and also set an example for the international community that countries can solve leftover issues from history through peaceful negotiations. I had the privilege of attending the handover ceremony and witnessing this exciting historic moment. Today, there are still some differences between China and the UK on Hong Kong, and it is our wish that the British side can correct its mistakes and make Hong Kong a bridge and bond in China-UK relations, instead of the other way around.

The third is the "golden era" in China-UK relations. Since 1990s, the two countries have entered a stage of comprehensive partnership, and comprehensive strategic partnership. In 2015, President Xi Jinping paid a "super state visit" to the UK, and the two sides committed to building a global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century, which opened the "golden era" for China-UK relations, and injected new vision and momentum to our bilateral ties.

History and reality show that as long as China and Britain abide by the basic norms of international relations, respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, adhere to the principles of non-interference in each other's internal affairs, uphold equality and mutual benefit, win-win cooperation, and properly handle differences, the relations between the two countries will continue to develop. Otherwise, it will encounter setbacks and even regression. I hope that China-UK relations can overcome the current difficulties, return to the right track and achieve stable and healthy development for the benefit of the two peoples.

Lianbing Xiao: You have all contributed to the healthy development of China-UK relations. Please talk about the results of your efforts.

Ambassador Liu: I've served as the Chinese Ambassador to the UK for more than 10 years, over the course of this period our bilateral ties have witnessed significant progress.

First, high-level exchanges are kept in a high momentum. In October 2015, President Xi paid a successful state visit to Britain, the two sides decided to build a global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century, thus opening the "golden era" of China-UK relations. The two countries maintain high-level exchanges and strategic communications through mechanisms such as the annual meeting of prime ministers, economic and financial dialogues, strategic dialogues, people-to-people exchange, and high-level security dialogues.

Second, economic and trade cooperation has continued to deepen. The trade volume of goods between China and Britain jumped from 50.1 billion US dollars in 2010 to 86.3 billion US dollars in 2019. Britain is China's third largest trading partner in Europe, and China is Britain's third largest export market for goods. 10 years ago, China's cumulative direct investment in the UK stood at about 1 billion US dollars, and by the end of 2019, it exceeded 20 billion US dollars, an increase of 20 times. The UK has become China's largest investment destination in Europe. London has become the second largest offshore RMB settlement center and the largest offshore RMB foreign exchange center in the world. The Shanghai-London Stock Connect pioneered the interconnection between China and overseas capital markets. China-UK cooperation under the "Belt and Road Initiative" is in the ascendant. The British Prime Minister's Special Envoy attended twice the "Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation" in China, and the two countries have also signed a third-party market cooperation agreement.

Third, people-to-people exchanges are another highlight of our bilateral ties. At present, about 220,000 Chinese students are studying in Britain, and more than 10,000 British students are studying in China. The "Chinese language wave" is heating up in the UK. The number of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in Britain reached 30 and 164 respectively, ranking first in Europe, which is nearly twice as many as that in 2010; More than 190,000 registered students and more than 1.7 million people participated in various cultural activities carried out by Confucius Institutes, and more than 600 British schools now offer Chinese courses. There are 344 China-UK cooperative education projects and 27 cooperative education institutions, involving 139 British universities and 232 Chinese universities and about 80,000 students from both countries. Local exchanges and cooperation have also been continuously expanded. At present, there are 69 pairs of friendship cities between the two countries. China is an important source for tourists visiting Britain. Before the pandemic, there were 168 passenger flights between China and Britain each week, with nearly 2 million people traveling into each other's country every year, doubling that of 10 years ago.

Fourth, international cooperation has continuously deepened. China and the UK are both permanent members of the UN Security Council and countries with major influences in the world. The two share consensus in safeguarding multilateralism, supporting free trade and opposing protectionism and unilateralism. In the UN, G20, World Trade Organization and under global frameworks, China and the UK are constantly strengthening communication and coordination. We also maintain close communication on international and regional hotspot issues such as climate change, biodiversity, and the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues.

We are also mindful that China-UK relations have encountered some obstacles and difficulties recently, and the responsibility rests entirely with the UK. A stable and healthy relationship is not only in the common interests of China and the UK, but also conducive to world peace and prosperity. China and Britain now stand at an important juncture. We hope that the UK will return to an independent, rational, and pragmatic policy toward China, meet China halfway, and promote the stability and long-term development of China-UK relations.

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