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Fu Ying Talked about the Emotional Estrangement Between the Chinese people and people in the West
2008/05/08

In the evening on 1st May, Fu Ying attended and addressed the Young Icebreakers Launch hosted by the 48 Group Club. About 150 people, including Stephen Perry, the chairman of the 48 Group Club, and son Jack Perry, directors of the British and Chinese department of the 'Young Icebreakers', British young entrepreneurs and students attended the celebration.

Fu Ying congratulated the 48 Group Club's 55th year anniversary. She said, 55 years ago, it took Mr. Jack Perry, the first chairman of the Club, 7 days to go from London to Hong Kong, and another 4 days to Beijing. Now Mr. Stephen Perry, the current chairman only spent 9 hours on his flight to Beijing. It is Mr. Jack Perry and other true visionaries who broke the ice, and initially built the communication between China and the UK. That is why we are not far away from each other any longer.

Half a century has passed, and both China and the whole world have been changing completely. If there were an invisible layer of ice between China and the West 50 years ago, then today a new layer of ice is forming, caused by the gap of perceptions and distrust between the western public and Chinese people.

Fu Ying cited the newest survey by Horizon Research Consultancy Group that about 80% of Chinese people no longer feel attracted to the West. Meanwhile, the percentage of the European who consider China as the biggest threat has doubled in the past year. The level of antagonism between the West and China has been unprecedentedly high.

Because the way the West dealt with the Tibet issue and the Beijing Olympics, many Chinese feel hurt deeply. The Olympics is a festival for the whole world, especially the young. When China won the right to hold the Olympics 8 years ago, people who flocked to Tiananmen Square to celebrate over night were all young people. At present, Chinese people sincerely hope to welcome people from the world and introduce China during the Olympics. However at this time, some people come up with disruptions. Therefore, Chinese people feel angry and hostile to people who make political abuse of the Olympics and distort the truth. But in the West, many people believe that China has no freedom of speech, and Chinese people have been brainwashed. They think the anger towards the West is just caused by too much nationalistic fervor.

Fu Ying said, people who thinks the 1.3 billion people have been brainwashed are naïve and arrogant. The problem is the gap of perceptions and knowledge about China the Westerners have. The understanding about China the West has lagged behind 20 years, for which China needs to introduce itself more effectively.

Fu Ying said, before I took the job in London, I bought dozens of books about the UK, and more or less got the picture about what the country is like. The British love reading books. But there is hardly any book which can clearly explain China in the UK. Some books are even written by people who regard China as an enemy. On the other hand, China publishes 230,000 types of books, 2,000 newspapers and 9,000 magazines each year. Major website portals like Sina.com.cn and Sohu.com.cn update thousands of news continuously every day. But how much of them can penetrate into the West, and how many British people know who the pop stars are and which the most popular film is in China?

Some western media criticize the human rights situation in China through reducing the human rights of 1.3 billion people into individual cases. The human rights in China relates to the basic interests of public. Chinese media are in the frontline of fighting for human rights. They has uncovered many environmental pollution cases, corruption acts and forced labour practices. Chinese government is not afraid of negative coverage, and has no need to hide. On the contrary, we have been actively solving the problems and guarding people's interests. Western media can have criticisms towards China, but they should be at least based on some evidence. The reports should be objective and follow the principle of justice and the law of China. In any case, China is willing to open itself to the media from other countries. But western media also need to learn how to win back the trust from Chinese public.

Fu Ying introduced China's economic and social development and the progress of China-UK relationship during the 30 years since China's Reform and Opening up. She anchors her hopes on the younger generations in the UK. Their minds are open and sharp, which enable them to learn new things much more easily. She hopes 'Young Icebreakers' can take the 'icebreaking spirit' of 48 Group Club to help the West understand China better, transfer their old views on China, and promote the trusts between China and the West in cooperation with Chinese young people.

Mr. Jack Perry, the Chinese department director of 'Young Icebreakers' said in his speech that, 'my grandfather went to China 55 years ago, and I visited China for the first time 16 years ago. I started to know China through my grandfather and father's eyes. But this is far from enough. China has been changing so fast and it is very inspiring. We can learn from the lessons which our fathers have learned, and inherit their determination and promise of promoting China-UK relationship. The younger generation also needs to learn to see China through their own eyes. Recently there has been some unfriendly coverage, which reflects our young people's responsibility to keep the dialogue, deepen the understanding, and enhance the communication. Now 'Young Icebreaker' has built their facebook on Youtube.com. It will keep growing and make a stronger bond with China in the future.

In 1953, representatives from 48 British industrial and business entities, led by Jack Perry, the chairman of London Export Company, visited China despite western blockade. They were known as 'Icebreakers'. It changed its name to '48 Group Club' in 1991. Now there have been more than 300 members in the Club, which form a positive force to promote the cooperation between China and the UK in every aspect.
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