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Home > Ambassador > Remarks
Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang at Online Welcoming Reception: Forge ahead with the Original Mission Firmly in Mind
2021/07/14

Director General Bates,
Lord Sassoon,
Your Excellencies,
Lords and MPs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends:

Good morning!

Thank you, Director General and Lord Sassoon, and thank you all for coming to this special reception.

As you probably know, I arrived in the UK on June 6th and had the honour of presenting my Letter of Credence to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on July 7th.

It is a great honour to be appointed by President Xi Jinping Ambassador of China to the UK, and with this honour come heavy responsibilities. I am here with the sincerity for stronger friendship and cooperation between our two peoples, and I look forward to working with the British Government and friends from all sectors to promote the sound and steady development of China-UK relations.

Nearly half a century ago, China and the UK moved beyond their differences in ideology and social system to establish ambassadorial diplomatic relationship. This decision required extraordinary political courage and strategic vision. Since then, China-UK relations have traveled an extraordinary and fruitful journey.

Our cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, financial services, energy, science and technology, tourism and health care has been mutually-beneficial, delivering tangible benefits to both peoples.

We have had close exchanges in culture, education and youth, which have deepened the friendship between our peoples and consolidated the public support for the development of our overall relationship.

The past and present of the China-UK relationship show that keeping it sound and strong is not only in the fundamental interests of the people of our two countries but also conducive to world peace, stability and prosperity.

Here, I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks and sincere tribute to people of all sectors from both countries who, over the years, have helped nurture the China-UK relationship and supported its improvement and development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

At present, against the background of the worst pandemic in a century and profound global changes unseen in a hundred years, the international landscape is undergoing accelerated evolution.

In both China and the UK, profound transformations are taking place.

Over in China, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the nation has made great leaps from gaining independence to becoming prosperous and growing strong, China is embarking on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in a comprehensive way.

Here, the UK is undergoing a series of progress and adjustments. It is faced with the new task of building a "Global Britain".

China-UK relations have again come to an important historical juncture. In face of the new situation and new tasks, it is all the more important that both countries bear in mind the fundamental interests of our peoples and the people of the world. It has fallen upon us to display the same strategic vision and political courage nearly half a century ago, stay the course of cooperation, remove various disruptions and strive for sustained progress in our relations.

First, we should foster a sensible strategic understanding of each other.

At the Ceremony Marking the Centenary of CPC, President Xi Jinping looked back on the glorious journey and arduous struggles of over 100 years and envisioned the bright prospects for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. His speech provided the most authoritative answer to help the world understand China.

China is pursuing better life for over 1.4 billion people and advancing the lofty cause of peace and development for mankind. These are our unswerving goals.

At home, China will continue deepening reform and opening wider to the world in a comprehensive way; we will implement the new concept and build a new paradigm for development that are consistent with the new stage; and we will make coordinated efforts to build better life, a stronger nation and a more beautiful country.

In our foreign policy, we will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation, follow an independent foreign policy of peace, pursue peaceful development, and work with all the countries and peoples to build a community with a shared future for mankind and carry forward our common values, that is, peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom.

A China that pursues peaceful development will pose no threat to anybody; a China that follows a new and Chinese-style path to socialist modernization will only create greater opportunities for the world.

China is UK's partner for cooperation and opportunity for development. China is not a challenge, threat or rival. On this major strategic issue, there should be no misunderstanding or misjudgment.

I am sure that my British friends, with your historic vision and pragmatic spirit, will come to the right conclusion.

Second, we should adopt a right approach to each other.

China and the UK have many similarities. Both countries have time-honoured history and splendid culture. We both support multilateralism and we both champion trade liberalisation and facilitation.

That being said, due to differences in history, culture, social system and development stage, we do have differences on certain issues. The right approach to our relations is to seek and expand areas where we have common interests, and focus on and advance cooperation. As for differences and disagreements, we should build up consensus and mutual trust through candid dialogues on the basis of respecting each other's core interests and major concerns. As long as we follow the principles of mutual respect, equality, inclusiveness and mutual learning, China-UK relations will move forward steadily and keep making progress.

Third, we should expand practical cooperation that is mutually beneficial.

Such cooperation is a stabilizer for China-UK relations.

China and the UK enjoy enormous potential for cooperation in a wide range of areas.

China has a population of over 1.4 billion, including a middle-income group of over 400 million. It is the world's largest trader in goods, largest manufacturer and biggest recipient of foreign investment.

The UK is a traditional trading nation. It is also an important international financial centre and shipping centre. And it has considerable strength in scientific and technological innovation as well as cultural and creative industries.

Despite the impact from Covid-19, China-UK trade and investment bucked the trend to hit new record last year and China became the UK's largest trading partner in goods in the first quarter of this year. This speaks volumes about the strong resilience and enormous potential of China-UK trade and economic cooperation.

While deepening existing cooperation, we can also work together in new areas, such as bio-medicine, public health, environmental protection, green finance and new energy vehicles.

China and the UK will host COP15 and COP26 respectively. We should step up coordination and cooperation to make both conferences successful.

Furthermore, we should enhance communication and coordination at multilateral forums such as the United Nations and the G20, so as to make greater contribution to world peace and common development.

Fourth, we should consolidate the public support for China-UK relations.

Friendship between the peoples is the lifeline of state-to-state relations.

China and Britain have a long history of cultural and people-to-people exchanges which, in recent year, have become increasingly vibrant and expanded into new areas.

China has become an important source of overseas tourist for the UK, with nearly 2 million people traveling between our two countries every year before the pandemic. As we speak, there are about 220,000 Chinese students in the UK and 10,000 British students in China.

When the pandemic is over, we should expand people-to-people exchanges and facilitate mutual visits, not least between our young people of our two countries. Not long ago, I attended the UK Final of the 20th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students. I was delighted to know that 130,000 students here in this country have enrolled to learn Chinese, and 400 million people in China are learning English.

China and the UK are also connected by our shared devotion and strength in sports, culture and arts. Football, for which Britain is well known, is drawing an increasing number of players and fans in China. Our two countries have every reason and great potentials to expand exchanges, enhance mutual learning and make progress together. The Chinese side welcomes Team GB to the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Covid-19 is still raging and forcing us to meet this way online today. As you could probably imagine, I was wearing a face mask when I landed in Heathrow. And, unlike my predecessors, I presented my Letter of Credence to Her Majesty during a video audience. This is unprecedented.

The pandemic is our common enemy. It has caused disaster in every country and chaos to life of everyone.

The pandemic is also driving home the fact that the countries of the world increasingly belong to one and the same community, sharing glory and grief. We must all work hand in hand if we want to meet global challenges and promote the welfare of people around the world.

As Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I will always bear in mind my mission, that is, to do my very best for friendship and cooperation between our two peoples. And I am ready to forge ahead in this direction.

But I know I wouldn't be able to achieve that without the support from people of all sectors in our two countries. So I am ready to reach out to you to exchange views and hear your ideas and suggestions. I look forward to working with you for the steady and long-term development of China-UK relations.

Thank you all.

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