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Consul General Zheng Xiyuan's Speech on National Day Reception Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China


Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant Mr. Smith,

Honorable High Sheriff Mr. Adlestone,

Your right worshipful Lord Mayor of Manchester Cllr.Chohan,   

Esteemed heads of diplomatic missions in Manchester,

Dear Mayors, Vice-Chancellors and councilors,

Dear representatives of Chinese communities and students,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening!

We are greatly honored to have you with us today and thank you all for joining us to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China as representatives of the people of northern England. Your kind presence bear full evidence to the expansive and intense goodwill of the British people towards the Chinese people. On behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Manchester, please allow me to express our sincere appreciation for your presence.

My dear friends, it is the Chinese people who are the biggest beneficiaries of the pursuit of Chinese development path.  In 1949, the vast majority of people in China were living in utter destitution with an average life expectancy of merely 35 and an 80% illiteracy rate. At that time, only 3 out of 100 Chinese completed elementary education, only 1 out of 100 being able to enter senior high school. Infant fatality rate was as high as 2%, and urban unemployment rate 24%. Nowadays, China has risen to become world's second largest economy whose people live up to 77 years old on average and almost all its young and middle-aged being able to read and write. To date, 900 million people have been lifted out of poverty. In social security, China has built the world's largest network, with a basic pension insurance system covering more than 900 million people and a basic health insurance system covering 1.3 billion, its urban unemployment rate being kept below 5%. Enrolled university students in China reach 30 million with another 5 million studying overseas. China's development benefits not only the Chinese people but also the rest of the world. Let's take climate change as an example. The abnormal weather experienced by Europe in recent years, especially those heat waves this year, has raised extensive concerns. China has always been taking a proactive approach to combat climate change.The World Bank statistics show that the cumulative energy savings of China has accounted for more than 50% of the world since it first started reducing carbon intensity in 2005, leading the world in installed renewable energy capacity. According to the New Scientist British magazine, China will hit the Paris Agreement carbon reduction target nine years ahead of schedule.

China's development path has proven most viable for China and won support by the whole nation. No matter what happens, China will continue to intensify reform and pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. The Belt and Road Initiative is meant to connect the destiny of Chinese people with the rest of the world. China aims to contribute more to build a community of shared future for mankind and to the peaceful development of the world.

Manchester is the spiritual home of socialists. Amazingly, socialism with Chinese characteristics has deep-rooted links with Manchester. The other day I attended the event commemorating the 200th anniversary of Peterloo Massacre and feel deeply touched by Mancunians' undaunted pursuit of fairness, equality and justice. Chetham's Library where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels joined to draft the Communist Manifesto, the People's History Museum, Robert Owen, the famous utopian socialist's statue are just a stone throw's away. They are like echoes of the past spectacular socialist movements. Mrs. Zoe Reed, the chairperson of the Society for Anglo Chinese Understanding (SACU) has come all the way from London to join us today. Her presence reminds us that the year 2019 marks the 80th anniversary of the introduction of cooperative movement with Rochdale principles from Manchester to China and her father was a student in a Bailie Cooperative School in China's Gansu province, which was an introduction to China through the cooperative movement spearheaded by Rochdale equitable pioneers.    

Ladies and gentlemen, when the wave of the fourth industrial revolution is sweeping across the world, bearing genes of industrial civilization, technological innovation and socialism, northern England is brimming with vitality.The five cities of Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle are linked more closely through the Northern Powerhouse strategy, creating a new economic engine to rival London. In the mean time, China's rapidly developing economy is thirsting for advanced technology. Shortly afterwards, Huawei will present 5G technology to you, Bank of China, Hainan Airlines and BCEGI are also going to showcase their projects undertaken with British partners, which all point to one fact that China and the UK are natural partners. We are striving to synergize the remarkable British strength in innovation and research with China's strong productivity for mutual benefit.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are 200,000 Chinese compatriots, and nearly 70,000 Chinese students living in Northern England. They have made important contributions to the prosperity and cultural diversity of the region, who also constitute an important force in promoting China-UK friendship and cooperation. With us today are also Mr. Marcus Chilton-Jones and Ms. Tracy Snell, curator and manager of RHS Garden Bridgewater who just returned from China concluding successful talks with their Chinese counterparts on building a Chinese garden in RHS Garden Bridgewater. RHS Garden Bridgewater harks back to the glorious days of Victorian Manchester which aims to boost the ambition of British people. The active participation of local Chinese communities is their way to reciprocate the warmth and help they received and their willingness to work together with local communities.

   My special thanks goes to Sir Richard, Cllr. Blake, Cllr. Millar, Cllr. Murphy and Cllr. Holmes, whose strong leadership have won immense respect from local people for leading the successful regeneration schemes of their cities. With your persistent efforts, the sister-city relationships between Manchester and Wuhan, Leeds and Hangzhou, Liverpool and Shanghai, Derby and Hefei have blossomed as models of China-UK sub-national cooperation.

    Finally, please allow me to express my sincere thanks the University of Salford, the University of Derby, the University of Manchester, Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, FCAM, Xinhua Chinese Association, Belt and Road Association and the Lowry hotel for supporting this event. I also would like to say thank you to Emily from the University of Derby, an English angel, for her passionate and creative drawing. This is the most thoughtful and heartwarming gift for our National Day.

    Now may I invite you to join me in a toast: To the prosperity of the People's Republic of China, to the ever-lasting China-UK friendship, cheers!

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