Remarks by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Welcome Reception Hosted by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle
Mansion House, Newcastle, 29 February 2012
（From Chinese Embassy in UK）
Lord Mayor Geoff O'Brien,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you most warmly, Lord Mayor, for making me feel so welcome in your city.
For all of you here, thank you for this tremendous introduction to the North East of England.
It's a great delight to make my first visit to the famous city of Newcastle and attend the North East Economic Forum.
Newcastle has built a reputation for many reasons.
One important factor is football. Perhaps many Chinese don't know the exact location of Newcastle on the map. But they love Newcastle United and know the former England's captain Alan Shearer wore the No.9 shirt here in Newcastle.
Earlier today, I was in Sunderland, another North East city with a proud Premier League team. I was told the North East 'Derby' this Saturday between Newcastle United and Sunderland has created a lot of excitement. I wish both teams the very best of luck this weekend!
Newcastle is also famous for its coal industry. I realised the importance of coal to this area long before I came to London as Ambassador.
I learned about your city in my university classroom. This was when the English teacher asked us not to 'carry coals to Newcastle'!
In the 19th century, as Britain's 'coal capital', Newcastle shipped coal to the rest of the country. The city's coal resource was the engine of prosperity of Britain. And there wouldn't be any industrial revolution to speak of without Newcastle.
Newcastle is also a remarkable example of how a city can transform its economy over the past 30 years.
Since the 1980s, Newcastle has invested a great deal in science, technology innovation, cultural and creative industries and the education sector.
These ambitious schemes have brought stunning changes to the city. Today, university students make up 10 percent of the Newcastle population. Yours is a genuine 'university town'.
I'm also pleased to learn of Newcastle's close association with China. Newcastle is a twin of the city of Taiyuan. Newcastle also has developed a sister relationship with Henan Province of China.
What deserves attention is that both Henan Province and Taiyuan are in China's heartland. In recent years, as part of a broader strategy to revive central China, these two regions are going through a similar economic restructuring as Newcastle.
This is a process that has become growth drivers for these two regions. And their culture and education sectors are also booming.
I got some good news yesterday, the Newcastle University and China's Xiamen University have signed an agreement on setting up a Confucius Institute. This will be the 19th Confucius Institute between China and Britain.
These region-to-region relations are symbolic of the productive partnership between China and Britain.
This year, China and Britain will mark 40 years of full diplomatic relations. This 40-year journey is truly extraordinary.
Today, we have every reason to be proud of how far we have come in virtually all fields. These include:
· A solid and growing political relationship.
· Strong trade and investment ties.
· Deepening people-to-people exchanges.
· And growing understanding and trust.
Going forward, I have confidence that China-UK relations will have an even brighter future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If 400 years ago it was foolish to carry coal to Newcastle, today 'carrying business opportunities to Newcastle' would be more than welcome for both of us.
You are leaders from all sectors in Newcastle and the North East. The opportunities of a growing China-UK partnership are within your grasp. I do urge you to deepen ties with your Chinese partners in all areas.
Together we have great potential to contribute even more to a win-win future of China-UK business partnership and to the prosperity of Newcastle and North East of England!