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Consul General Pan Yundong's Speech on the Reception for Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Ambassadorial Diplomatic Relationship between China and UK

2012-03-13
 

 

Pan Yundong

Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Manchester

13th March 2012

Distinguished guests,

Leaders of the Chinese community,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

      Good evening!

      Welcome to celebrate with us the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of the Ambassadorial Diplomatic Relationship between China and UK.

      Today is an important day in China-UK relationship. Exactly 40 years ago, the governments of China and UK formally upgraded the Chargé d’Affaires diplomatic relationship to ambassadorial diplomatic relationship between our two countries, thus turned a new page in our bilateral relations. Earlier today, Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Cameron exchanged congratulatory messages on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of ambassadorial diplomatic relationship between our two countries, and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also exchanged congratulatory messages with Foreign Secretary Hague.

      History has proven and will continue to prove that, the development of the relationship in the past 40 years not only benefited our two peoples but also made great contribution to world peace and development.

      In the past 40 years, the political mutual trust between China and UK has been steadily reinforced. Through negotiations, China and UK successfully solved the Hongkong issue, which cleared the biggest obstacle in our bilateral relations. At present, China and UK have constructed Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and established important high-level mechanisms such as Annual Meeting for Premiers, Economic and Financial Dialogue, Strategic Dialogue, Parliamentary Regular Meetings, etc. The successful launching and effective running of these mechanisms supply the institutional guarantee and useful platform for the friendly exchanges between China and UK.

      In the past 40 years, the people-to-people exchanges between China and UK have sprung, grown, and thriven. Last year, Premier Wen Jiabao conducted a successful visit to UK, and agreed jointly with Prime Minister Cameron to launch the Vice-Premier level China-UK People-to-People Exchange, which is the first high level one between China and EU member states.

      In the past 40 years, our two countries have reaped fruitfully in education exchanges. At present, nearly 120,000 Chinese young students are studying in UK. The “Fever of Chinese Language” and “Fever of Studying in China” are just taking hold, and one British student got the No. 1 Prize in a “Chinese Bridge” Chinese proficiency competition for foreign college students. With 18 Confucius Institutes and 60 Confucius Classrooms, the UK puts all other EU member states behind.

      In the past 40 years, the economic and trade links between China and UK are strengthening constantly. In 1972, the trade volume between our two countries was only 300 million US dollars. In 2011, the China-UK goods trade volume reached the record 58.7 billion US dollars, increased by nearly 200 times, which reflects the huge potential of the China-UK economic and trade relations. Nowadays, many Chinese enterprises cast their sights of investment on UK. According to some statistics, by the end of last year, China invested more than 2.3 billion US dollars in the non-financial sectors of UK, and 1.13 billion occurred in last year, accounting for nearly half of the total.

      Ladies and gentlemen,

      In the 40 years, the exchanges and cooperation in the local level have obtained sound development. In order to promote the friendly cooperation between the North of England and China, the Chinese government set up the Chinese Consulate General in Manchester in 1986. Since then, from Liverpool to York, from Derby to Newcastle, the northern area of England has witnessed continuous development with Chinese counterparts in fields of politics, education, trade, culture, and so on.

      We are happy to see that, there are 20 or so twin-city relations between our consular district and China, some of which are Manchester and Wuhan, Liverpool and Shanghai, Derbyshire County and Shanxi Province. More twinning links are under discussion. Some of the twin cities have exchanges frequently. By learning from each other, they make progress together. For example, I was told that Sheffield is working with its Chinese twin city on building a Sheffield Town in Chengdu, and a China Garden in Sheffield.

      We are happy to see that, the education cooperation between our consular district and China is blossoming beautifully. Today, more than 40,000 Chinese students and scholars are studying in the 31 universities in our consular district. In Manchester University alone, there are 2,550, which is the largest number in all UK universities. Later last year, shortly after I took office, I went to Lancaster University for the opening ceremony of the fifth Confucius Institute in our consular district, and later this year, Newcastle University will unveil the sixth. I’d like to add a footnote here that this one is between Newcastle University and my alma mater Xiamen University. In the mean time, there are many English teachers from our consular district going to teach in China. For example, Stockport sent 10 English teachers to Kaifeng City of China in 2010.

      We are happy to see that, the cultural exchanges between our consular district and China is incessantly enriching. Links have been bridged between the Science and Industry Museum of Manchester and the Chinese Science and Technology Museum in Beijing, between the National Coal and Mining Museum of England and the National Coal and Mining Museum of China, etc., and the concerned museums have conducted joint science researches and publicities. During the past Spring Festival, there were big scale celebrations across our consular district, with the Chinese people and British people together enjoying Chinese culture, tasting Chinese cuisine, and experiencing Chinese New Year. In the past, the Chinese people listened to songs of Beatles; today, China has the largest number of English Premiership fans in the world.

      We are happy to see that, the sports cooperation between our consular district and China has stepped on a new stage. To better compete in the Thirtieth Olympic Games in London, the Chinese athletes will have their first overseas pre-game training, and many of them will train in Leeds University. We believe, the Chinese athletes who have participated training in our consular district will make new breakthroughs and rewrite world records together with their British counterparts.

      We are happy to see that, the people-to-people exchanges between our consular district and China are becoming more and more frequent. 40 years ago, most of you are strangers to China; today, many of you have visited China. In last year alone, our Consulate General issued more than 40,000 visas to China, with an annual increase of more than 20%. And this year this figure is expected to increase.

      In the past 40 years, our consular district successfully transformed its industry and upgraded its economy. The industrial economy of manufacturing and mining has given way to the knowledge economy of hi-tech, creativity, green energy, culture, etc., and our consular district are forerunners in the world in many sectors. A similar story happened in China also. In the past 40 years, especially the 30 or so years since reform and opening up, China has developed from the impoverished backwater to the second largest economy in the world. Hundreds of millions bid farewell to poverty. In 2011, China secured a good start of the Twelfth Five Year Plan, with GDP exceeding 4.7 trillion pounds, urban population exceeding their rural counterparts for the first time in history. China now is striking forward to urbanization and industrialization. All these are not only remarkable achievements but also will bring about business opportunities with unlimited potential and friendly environment for us to strengthen cooperation. The differences in the economic structure of our consulate district and that of China are easy to see. We each have advantages and complement the other quite well.

      Ladies and gentlemen,

      We Chinese often say “Puzzleless at the age of 40”, which means that when a person is 40 years old, he or she will not encounter any puzzle in the future. Today, when we look back at the China-UK relationship in the last 40 years, we find that although there were hiccups or even hardships, on the whole, the China-UK relationship had been on the track of development. Undoubtedly, due to different history, culture, and social systems, the disagreement and differences on some issues between China and UK do exist, and they are just normal, but the differences should not obstruct friendly cooperation between our two sides. Rather, as the past 40 years experiences have reflected, in many circumstances, these differences command us to strengthen exchanges, enhance understandings, and deepen cooperation. Once we come to this point, we will be “puzzleless” when managing our future relations.

      Summarizing our relationship in the past 40 years and looking forward to the next 40 years, we find that, achievements come with the common contributions and hardworking of us both, and the future development depends on our redoubled support and efforts. As insiders and propellers of the China-UK relations, we can justifiably believe that our future relationship will be better, so long as we work closely together.

      To end my speech, allow me to propose a toast

      For the achievements brought about by China-UK relationship in the past 40 years and its promising scenario,

      For the friendship and happiness of the peoples of China and UK,

      For the development of the friendly cooperation between our consular district and China,

      Cheers!

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