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Home > Ambassador > Remarks
Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang at the Opening of the 20th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition UK Regional Final: Appreciate the Beauty of the Chinese Language and Draw on the Power of Communication
London, 26 June 2021
2021/06/27

Ms. Ewart-Biggs,

Dr. Spence,

Judges and Contestants,

Teachers and Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends:

Good morning!

It is a real delight to join you at the Opening of the 20th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition UK Regional Final. This is the first large-scale event in the field education that I have attended since my arrival in London.

Thirty-five years ago, I was studying in the UK and had my personal experience of the intense interest in China among the young people here. I even taught a few classmates a couple of simple Chinese sentences and I hope they still remember. Today, it is an exceptional delight for me to watch British university students display their Chinese language skills and talents.

China is ancient. It is the world's longest continuous civilization. With its 5,000-year splendid culture, the Chinese nation has made important contributions to the progress of mankind.

China is also young. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, especially since reform and opening up began over 40 years ago, China has experienced profound changes during which it has displayed a vibrant youthful vigour. China has a civilization that stays committed to its finest traditions and keeps making new innovations.

Language is a vehicle of civilisation. It is also a bridge of communication between countries and nations. Here, I would like to share with you the following points.

First, I hope we could come together to appreciate the beauty of the language.

Chinese is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. It is the crystallization of a culture of several thousand years. There is much more to it than just words and expressions, for example, the artistry of its characters, the elegance of its structure and the charm of its tones and rhythm, just to name a few.

So it is my hope that when you are learning the Chinese language, you will appreciate the profound culture that it embodies. Understanding the culture of a country is very important. It is the key to understanding its past, present and future.

Second, I hope we could come together to build a bridge of friendship.

China and the United Kingdom both have time-honoured history and splendid culture. Both are countries of global significance. Our exchanges and cooperation cover a wide range of areas.

There is no denying that our two countries have different history, culture and social systems. We are also at different development stages. But this only highlights the need for better mutual understanding between our peoples so that we can avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment. I hope more and more young people from both our two countries will learn the language of each other, become goodwill ambassadors and build bridges for communication. This is where the hope of China-UK relations lies.

Today in China about 400 million people are learning English. This is a compulsory course in most primary and secondary schools. Of course, lessons in other languages are also available.

I'm delighted that the UK government also attaches importance to the teaching of the Chinese language by introducing special policy incentives. The Mandarin Excellence Programme of the UK Department for Education, for example, supports close to 7,000 primary and secondary school students. There are also 30 Confucius Institutes and 164 Confucius classrooms across the United Kingdom, with 130,000 registered students.

It is my hope that as you try to master the Chinese language, you will make more Chinese friends, learn more about the country and help to build a broader bridge for mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples.

Third, I hope we could come together to create a better future for the whole world.

Over 160 years ago, when describing the age following the Industrial Revolution, Charles Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Globalisation has brought unprecedented progress as well as unforeseen challenges to mankind. The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 reminds us once again that mankind has the same planet to call home and the same future to embrace. Be it addressing the challenges of global public health, or tackling climate change and preserving bio-diversity, no country can do it alone. The world must work together.

I often think to myself, if Chinese-speakers and English-speakers around the world work together to deal with global challenges, we can certainly make greater contribution to world peace and prosperity.

It is my hope that as you work on your language skills, you will have a broader vision, a bigger heart and bigger dreams, and think about the major issues that concern the shared future of mankind. I hope you will step up exchanges and cooperation with the young people from China and other countries, and make your contribution to a better world and a brighter future for mankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends:

Most of the contestants present today are in your late teens or early twenties. I admire your youth, your vigour and vitality. When you think of the future, the sky is the limit. Master the Chinese language and you will take hold of the golden key and have wings to fly when you explore China and its civilisation. I am glad this is now within your reach.

When the pandemic is over, I hope you all will be able to visit China and meet and make friends with the young people there. I look forward to hearing your stories about China and encourage you to become envoys of friendship between our two great nations.

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all the teachers and volunteers who are teaching the Chinese language here and introducing the Chinese culture to the people in the UK. My thanks also go to British friends in all sectors for your strong and continuous support.

Last but not least, I would like to wish the 20th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition UK Regional Final great success!

* * *

On the 26th June, Ambassador Zheng Zeguang attended the online opening ceremony of the 20th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition UK Regional Final and delivered a speech entitled Appreciate the Beauty of the Chinese Language and Draw on the Power of Communication. Also speaking at the opening ceremony were Kate Ewart-Biggs OBE, Interim Chief Executive of British Council, Dr. Michael Spence, President and Provost of University College London and Fang Wenjian, Chairman of China Chamber of Commerce in the UK. Other dignitaries attending the opening were Zheng Xiyuan, Chinese Consul General in Manchester, Ma Qiang, Chinese Consul General in Edinburgh, Professor Dolores Kelly MLA, Chairperson of Northern Ireland Assembly Cross Party Group on China, David Stringer-Lamarre, Special Advisor International, Institute of Directors and members of the senior management of Lancaster University, Newcastle University, Ulster University and Hull University.

Nearly 700 people, including co-presidents of Chinese and British sides of the 30 Confucius Institutes, teachers and students of British Universities, secondary schools and primary schools, families and friends of contestants and Chinese and British business representatives watched the event online via Zoom conference or live stream on Youtube and Facebook.

The competition attracted nearly one hundred young contestants from 15 universities from all over the UK, of which 10 students from 8 universities, including the University of Cambridge, LSE, the University of Manchester, the University of Leeds, SOAS, the University of Sheffield, Heriot-Watt University and Cardiff University, made it to the UK regional final. Zuzanna Anna Suchcicka from the University of Leeds, Anneka Shah from SOAS, University of London, Jef Naomi Turk Remijsen from SOAS, University of London, Julia Makosa from the University of Manchester, Brogan Somer Mathieson from the University of Sheffield, Brodie William Lawrence from Heriot-Watt University, and Ross Goldstone from Cardiff University won the special prize and the top three prizes respectively.

Since the first "Chinese Bridge" Competition in 2002, the event has attracted over 1.5 million young students from over 160 countries. Contestants from the UK have always performed well and come out with good results at the global finals.

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