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Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the University of St Andrews: Ever to be Open, Ever to Excel
The University of St Andrews, 2 May 2018

Vice Chancellor Mapstone,

Mr. Allan,

Teachers and Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a real delight to come to the beautiful campus of the University of St Andrews.

I have visited many British universities during my eight years as Chinese Ambassador to the UK. The University of St Andrews, however, remains on my wish list until the opportunity presents itself today.

This reminds me of an English proverb I learned at college which goes "It is never too late to have a delicious supper." Since coming to Britain, I have consulted my friends in this country. Some say it is not an English proverb. Others say it is.

Anyway, a delicious supper is not my reason to be here, although I thank Vice-Chancellor Mapstone for treating me to a delicious lunch a moment ago. I also want to thank the Vice-Chancellor for sharing with me a Scottish saying about supper: "It is never too late to have a Burn's supper".

Coming back to my reasons to visit St Andrews, they are first of all to appreciate the University's time-honoured history and rich cultural heritage, and second, to meet you, the teachers and students and exchange views on important issues of our world today.

I am overwhelmed by St Andrews' splendid list of alumni:

  • Five Nobel laureates;
  • John Napier, discoverer of logarithms;
  • Edward Jenner, the pioneer of smallpox vaccine and father of immunology;
  • James Wilson and John Witherspoon, founding fathers of the United States of America and signatories of the Declaration of Independence;
  • And Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

I am also impressed by St. Andrews' close ties with China. These include the student exchange programmes with Renmin University of China and the University of Hong Kong, and the joint Chinese PHD students programme with the China Scholarship Council. As I speak, there are over 550 Chinese students studying at St. Andrews.

Most of all, I admire St. Andrews' official motto, the soul of this University.

"Ever to Excel" must have inspired generations of outstanding graduates to constantly strive for perfection, to fear no danger, to stop at no hardship, and to always set the highest goals for themselves.

In today's world, "Ever to excel" requires one, whether a person or a country, to keep abreast with the trend of the times, to stay open and be inclusive. That means one should not put a single country first and revert to protectionism and isolationism.

On this note, I will focus my speech today on openness and inclusiveness and share with you my views on China's development, China-UK relations and the future of the world.

Openness and inclusiveness has been the main theme of China's development in the past 40 years of reform and opening up. It is also the secret to China's success.

For 40 years, China has expanded the reform from rural areas to cities, from pilot zones to the whole country, and from economic restructuring to deeper reforms across the board.

In this process,

  • China has taken into full consideration its national conditions and at the same time adopted a global view. It has emphasised both independence and self-reliance, and opening up and win-win cooperation.
  • China has adhered to socialism as its fundamental political system and at the same time carried out reforms to adopt market economy.
  • China has been both practical and pioneering in its reforms. "Crossing the river by feeling the stones" is how China experimented and pressed ahead with many of its reform programmes. At the same time, when reforms lead to new situations, encountered new problems and gathered new experience, these were examined, addressed and incorporated in a new round of reform. This is how China has improved its system through development, and written a success story in its national development.

For 40 years, China has remained committed to opening up. This has been a fundamental national policy and the success of this policy is an open China with an open economy.

China today is the world's second largest economy, largest industrial producer, largest trader in goods, and largest holder of foreign exchange reserves. China's economy has been growing at an average annual rate of 9.5% and its foreign trade at 14.5%.

For 40 years, China has stayed committed to building an open world economy. From establishing special economic zones to joining the WTO, from massive inflow of FDI and big steps in outbound investments to proposing the Belt and Road Initiative, China has opened its market at an increasingly higher level.

The result is encouraging. Since adopting the reform and opening up policy, China has opened a market of over $1.7 trillion to foreign investment, and invested over $1.2 trillion overseas. In recent years, China has contributed over 30% of world economic growth every year and become a major stabiliser and powerhouse for world economic growth.

For 40 years, China has adhered to the policy of respecting the diversity of civilisations. We have called for exchanges between civilisations as a way to clear misunderstanding. We have advocated mutual learning in order to eliminate conflicts. And we have championed equal-footed coexistence over the myth of superior civilisation.

The Chinese people cherish the spirit of openness and inclusiveness. And in this spirit, China proposes to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and hopes that countries in the world will join in to create a more beautiful future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last year, China and the UK celebrated the 45th anniversary of ambassadorial diplomatic ties. For 45 years, openness and inclusiveness has also been the main theme of this relationship and the driving force behind the ever deeper cooperation between our two countries. This is reflected in the following three aspects:

First, in the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, China and the UK have created a new model for addressing historical problems.

Last year marks the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong. The returning of Hong Kong cleared the historical obstacle for China-UK relations. It also set an example for countries hoping to address historical issues through peaceful negotiations. This has been a successful application of "Chinese solution" and "Chinese wisdom" in pursuit of world peace, development and progress.

I had the honor to attend the handover ceremony 20 years ago and witness this historic moment. That was in fact the beginning of my close bond with Britain.

Second, in the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, China and the UK have respected each other and ushered in a new era for our bilateral relations.

In over forty years, China-UK relationship has leaped up four stages: from normalisation of diplomatic ties, to comprehensive partnership, to comprehensive strategic partnership, and then to global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century and the China-UK "Golden Era".

The fundamental reasons for this leapfrogging development are: First, mutual respect for each other's independent choice of social system and development path; Second, respect for each other's core interests and major concerns; Third, pursuit of common interests while respecting differences.

Our shared belief in openness and inclusiveness has helped make China-UK relationship an example of mutual respect, mutual trust and win-win cooperation between major countries.

Third, in the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, China and the UK have joined hands to pursue win-win development.

Thanks to the efforts on both sides, China and the UK have deepened cooperation across the board and created many "first's".

  • The UK is the first foreign country to issue RMB-denominated bond. Major Chinese banks have set up branches or subsidiaries in London, creating the largest offshore RMB centre outside China.
  • The UK is the first among Western major countries to apply to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the first to inject capital into AIIB infrastructure development projects, and the first to appoint a special envoy to the Belt and Road Initiative and set up the Expert Board.
  • The UK is the largest destination in Europe for Chinese investment.
  • And of all European countries, the UK has the largest number of Chinese overseas students and Confucius Institutes and boasts the most extensive cooperation with Chinese universities.

There are over 170,000 Chinese students in the UK, of who over 10,000 are here in Scotland. They are the largest international student community in Scotland.

Across the UK, there are 29 Confucius Institutes and 156 Confucius Classrooms, with over 160,000 registered students.

Of these, five Confucius Institutes and 44 Confucius Classrooms are located in Scotland. In proportion to its population, Scotland has more Confucius Institutes and Classrooms than any other parts of the world.

I am happy to tell you that yesterday I unveiled the Confucius Classroom in the farthest and northernmost part of Scotland and of Britain. That is Mid Yell Junior High School in Shetland.

The open and inclusive cooperation between China and Scotland has yielded many fruitful results. Over 50 Scottish companies have set up businesses in China. Chinese investment has found their way into energy, retail, automobile, innovation and other areas in Scotland. Let me give you a few examples.

  • China Railway No.3 Engineering Group has invested £10 billion in Scotland's comprehensive infrastructure projects.
  • China's Ctrip invested £1.4 billion and acquired the Edinburgh-headquartered Skyscanner.
  • China Three Gorges Corporation, together with the Portuguese company EDP Renewables, won a bid for the Moray Firth offshore wind project in Scotland. This has been a successful match of China's strength in engineering technology application and Britain's research and development capability in offshore wind power.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Charles Dickens wrote,

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

He was describing an age of profound development and transformation. Today, ours is also a time of profound development and transformation.

On the one hand,

  • Peace and development remains the over-aching theme and irreversible trend of our times;
  • Multi-polarisation, globalisation, IT application and cultural diversity continue to deepen;
  • Reform of the international order and governance system advances with accelerated pace;
  • Countries are increasingly connected and inter-dependent;
  • And there is increased equilibrium in the international balance of power.

On the other hand,

  • The world is facing growing uncertainties and destabilising factors;
  • Economic growth has been sluggish, the wealth gap widening, and regional hot-spots intensifying;
  • Non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, cyber insecurity, major epidemics and climate change continue to spread.

In a word, people around the world still face many common challenges.

No country can address these challenges alone. Nor can any country afford to retreat to self-isolation. Mankind is one interdependent community.

In such circumstances, what kind of a world do we want? What kind of a future can we build?

China's answer is this: We should build a new-type of international relations; We should build a community with a shared future for mankind.

What do we mean by the new type of international relations? It is a type of relations that has three features.

First, mutual respect.

This means,

  • The "the law of the jungle" where the strong bullies the weak must be rejected.
  • All countries, regardless of size, strength or wealth, are equal members of the international community.
  • Countries should respect each other's independent choice of development path and oppose external interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.

Second, fairness and justice.

This means,

  • The future of the world is in the hands of the people of all countries.
  • The affairs of the world should be addressed through consultations between the governments and peoples of all the countries.
  • Countries should have equal rights to development, have equal access to opportunities and be equals before the rules.
  • And the international order should be equitable and reasonable.

Third, win-win cooperation.

This means,

  • We should replace the old mindset of "I win, you lose" or "winner takes all" with the new ideal of "win-win for all".
  • Countries with different social systems, development paths and cultural heritages should coexist in peace and harmony, and work for common development.

Now let me explain the community with a shared future for mankind by outlining its five-fold meaning.

First, lasting peace.

Peace, like air and sunshine, is hardly noticed and easily forgotten, but its absence is life-threatening. Without peace, development cannot be possible.

To achieve lasting peace, all countries need to renounce the cold-war mentality and power politics, address disputes through dialogues, and bridge differences through consultation. All countries need to be protectors and promoters of peace.

Second, universal security.

There is no oasis in the world that one can escape to for absolute security. And security built upon other's misery is not secure, because a threat to other countries may turn out to be a challenge to one's own security.

The only way out is for all countries of the world to make collective, comprehensive and cooperative efforts in search of common and sustainable security.

Third, common prosperity.

"A single flower does not make a spring."

While pursuing our respective national interests, countries should not undermine the interests of others. Instead, countries should enhance policy coordination and reduce negative spillover effects. This is the way for countries of the world to achieve inter-connected development and win-win results.

Fourth, open and inclusive development.

Taking protectionist moves is like drinking poisoned wine to quench thirst. Protectionism does more harm than good.

At a time of anti-globalisation backlash and surging protectionism, the multi-lateral trade regime is under threat. It is important that countries firmly uphold WTO rules, support the open, transparent, inclusive and nondiscriminatory multi-lateral trade regime, and advocate and facilitate the building of an open world economy.

Fifth, clean and beautiful environment.

The community with a shared future for mankind is an environment-friendly community, and its survival hinges upon a balance between economic growth, social progress and environmental protection. Therefore, it focuses on the preservation of the eco-environment, respects nature and advocates green development.

This community features harmony between people, society and nature, and is dedicated to saving the planet Earth for every inhabitant.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is a saying in China, "Ocean is vast because it opens to admit all rivers."

Ever to be open and inclusive, we can bridge our differences, expand common interests, address various challenges, promote exchanges and mutual learning between civilisations and achieve common progress.

Ever to be open and inclusive, we can excel!

Ever to be open and inclusive, we can build a community with a shared future for mankind, and create a more beautiful future for the world!

Thank you!

Now, I would like to take your questions.

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