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Wenchuan has the West Rethink China
--Fu Ying's visit to Oxford and Nottingham
2008/07/07

From 13 to 15 May Ambassador Fu Ying visited Oxford and Nottingham. In Oxford Fu Ying met with the Lord Mayor elect Susanna Pressel and Chancellor Chris Patten of Oxford University, and attended the launch of the Oxford China Center. In Nottingham she met with new Lord Mayor Gul Nawaz Khan. She visited Trent University and had a discussion with the students. She also delivered a speech at Nottingham University and attended the award ceremony of 2008 China-UK Entrepreneurship Competition.

Fu Ying followed closely the Sichuan earthquake all through her visit. She introduced developments of the earthquakes and progress of disaster rescue and relief at every event. She pointed out that the Chinese government, soldiers and people worked as one and carried out in a rapid, forceful and orderly manner an unprecedented relief.

President Hu Jintao wrote important instructions on the relief work. Premier Wen Jiabao flew to the disaster areas merely 2 hours after the earthquake and demanded all efforts to save life so long as there was one hope. More than 100,000 rescuers worked day and night. The earthquake became the focus of people's attention throughout China. People took action immediately to donate money and materials. When blood was in shortage in the disaster areas, people queued to donate in major cities and towns across China.

Fu Ying told the moving story of Song Xinyi, a three-year-old girl. She was rescued from the ruins after 40 hours of uninterrupted efforts. Her parents protected her against the fallen wall with their bodies at the time of the earthquake. It was a wall of life built by their flesh and blood. When she was sent to hospital, Premier Wen Jiabao was among the people who made way for her.

Wherever Fu Ying went she received sympathy and condolences from both British government and people and Chinese people living in the UK. At the reception marking the establishment of the China Center of Oxford University, JCB donated 6 backhoe loaders to the disaster areas in rescue and clean up. Both Oxford University and Eastern Midlands Development Bureau said they would organize donations. Fu Ying thanked the British government and people, local Chinese and Chinese students for their sympathy and assistance in this time of difficulty. She expressed her belief that with care and help of Chinese both inside and outside China, the Chinese government and people would be able to overcome disaster and rebuild their home.

Fu Ying said that after the disaster British media filed back many vivid, true and positive reports of the rescue and relief efforts by the Chinese government, leaders, soldiers and armed police and of the active participation and support of the Chinese people and particularly those in the disaster areas and students, in sharp contrast to the negative one-sided coverage of the Olympic torch relay not long ago.

In ancient China, there was a story of debate in Zhuangzi•Autumn Floods in which Zhuangzi, the ancient philosopher, was asked how he possibly knew the feeling of fish since he was not a fish himself. Fu Ying used it to describe the gap of understanding between east and west. She thought that in the two months since Lhasa riot and Olympic torch relay the coverage by western media on China and their description of way of life of the Chinese people were like treating fish in water, categorically concluding that they lacked human rights and freedom and they were brainwashed. It was strongly detested by the Chinese people. This in turn, made the Chinese people think that the western media were trying to undermine purposely China's development. In a way both sides treated the other as fish in water, judging by their own standards and taste. This simplistic conclusion was not fair.

Fu Ying said that the Regulations on Government Information Transparency which came into effect on 1 May not only showed respect and protection to the people's right to information, but also provided an even firmer foundation for the open dissemination of information to the world. Many Chinese reporters went to the disaster areas and risked their life in sending back immediate, comprehensive and transparent reports. This had not only played the role of preventing panic but turned on a new page in forging its own image. To the Chinese people Sichuan earthquakes was an unfortunate happening but it also enabled China to regain the right of self-image building in the western media and let the world see a real China.

Fu Ying said that there were only 88 days to go since the opening of the Beijing Olympics. When the Chinese people was celebrating the Year of Rat early this year, there was a snow storm striking South China; when they hoped to send the world their greetings through the torch relay they received unfair treatment; when they had the chance to express their aspiration towards the Beijing Olympics as the torch reached Mount Jolmo Lungma, there was a severe earthquake. China and the Chinese nation had suffered so much in such a short span of time.

The 1.3 billion Chinese people had finally got rid of hunger thanks to 30 years of reform and opening up. But in building a harmonious society they had endured a lot, especially in these two months.

Fu Ying said that the 30 years of reform and opening up were also the time when China interacted with and learned from the west and they had established a relationship of mutual benefit, win-win and high interdependency. The western countries were important partners in China's reform and opening up. Though there were twists and turns in the relations between east and west, the overall trend of cooperation would continue. China would not change its direction of development.

In retrospect of the torch relay, China's youth matured in the past two months. Those who were born after 1980s was the first generation that had no memory of hunger in China and that had uninterrupted modern education. They were having in-depth thinking and debate over the question of how to treat the west. They realized their own historic responsibility of fostering China's image. To the west, it took time to know and understand the great achievements and changes in China. They would realize that to contain China neither works nor confirms to their own interest.

Fu Ying maintained that both China and the west should work to enhance understanding and deepen consensus. The west should see the Beijing Olympic Games as a feast for the Chinese to bid farewell to hunger not as a declaration to become a world power. China should rethink how to communicate with the west, speak with a more open and accommodating attitude. The Chinese people would embrace the world with smile. The Beijing Olympics would bring China and the west closer.

On her visit in Oxford and Nottingham, Fu Ying said that it had been a century since Oxford University started its China research and teaching. There were over 750 Chinese students there, doubling the figure ten years ago. Oxford had effective cooperation with China in cross-discipline, public health and epidemics, sustainable use of water resources of Yellow River, among others. Fu Ying was happy to witness the launch of its China center and regarded it as a bridge to enhance mutual understanding between people of the two countries.

Nottingham established sister relations with Ningbo City in 2005. On 1 May Lord Mayor attended the inauguration of Ningbo Cross-sea Bridge. On 7 May Ningbo had a week-long cultural festival in Nottingham. New Lord Mayor would visit China on 23 May to attend the launch of Sustainable Energy Research Center of the Ningbo Campus of Nottingham University. It was estimated that there were 1600 Chinese students in Nottingham University, the largest number in UK. Nottingham University was the first to open its China campus, which formally started to take in students in 2005.

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