Shore up Confidence, Seize the Opportunities and Deepen Cooperation
Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the CBBC Farewell Roundtable
Chinese Embassy in the UK, 20 January 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin with a big thank you to the China Britain Business Council for hosting this special roundtable for me to bid farewell. It is a real delight to meet you again online to renew our friendship and talk about opportunities for development before I complete my tour of office and leave for China.
In my diplomatic career of 47 years, I have had six overseas postings on four continents: Africa, America, Asia and Europe. The eleven years spent in the UK are my third tour as Chinese Ambassador and the longest of my overseas postings. It is indeed an honour to be the longest-serving Chinese Ambassador both in the history of China-UK relations and of all Chinese ambassadors of all time.
When I first arrived in the UK eleven years ago, CBBC held a welcome lunch for me at Claridge’s Hotel. In my remarks at the lunch, I promised to take it as my mission to deepen political mutual trust, enhance cooperation across the board, and expand strategic consensus and common interests of our two countries, so as to bring the China-UK relationship forward. Over the past eleven years, I have worked diligently to keep my words and fulfill my duty.
In these eleven years, we witnessed and worked together for the opening up of new frontiers for China-UK mutually-beneficial cooperation. In 2015, President Xi Jinping paid a “super state visit” to the UK, The visit ushered in the China-UK “Golden Era” and charted the course for the overall China-UK relationship as well as practical cooperation. High-level dialogue mechanisms between China and the UK including the Prime Ministers’ Meeting and the Economic and Financial Dialogue offered strong impetus for cooperation between our two countries. In the past eleven years, China-UK cooperation played a pioneering and leading role in many areas of productive cooperation between China and Western countries. Among major Western countries, the UK was the first to join the AIIB and inject capital into the AIIB special fund; the first to set up an RMB clearing centre and issue RMB sovereign bond; and the first to appoint a special envoy to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and to sign the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the BRI.
In these eleven years, we witnessed and worked together for new records in China-UK trade and investment. First, bilateral trade has surged. From 2010 to 2020, China-UK trade in goods surged from $50.1 billion to $92.4 billion. Despite the pandemic and the contraction of international trade that follows, China-UK trade still hit a historical record. Second, China-UK cooperation in investment has kept deepening. By the end of 2019, FDI from the UK to China totaled $25.39 billion; in the other direction, FDI from China to the UK totaled $17.14 billion. This is about 20 times the level at the end of 2009, and has made the UK the second largest destination in Europe for Chinese investment. Moreover, Chinese investment has expanded from traditional industries to new areas such as high-end manufacturing, information technology and cultural and creative industries. Third, large-scale projects have made important progress. Eleven years ago, there was basically no large-scale flagship project jointly built by our two sides. Now, with the efforts of both sides, several China-invested flagship projects in the UK are making steady progress, including Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant and ABP Royal Albert Dock.
In these eleven years, we witnessed and worked together for new breakthroughs in China-UK cooperation on financial services and the BRI. Both China and the UK have made vigorous efforts to advance cooperation in green finance and FinTech. Eight Chinese banks have opened branches in the UK. The Shanghai-London Stock Connect was officially launched, connecting for the first time the Chinese capital market with a foreign one, and enabling many Chinese companies to be listed here in London. London became the world’s largest offshore RMB exchange centre and the second largest offshore RMB clearing centre. The total clearing volume has already exceeded 50 trillion RMB yuan. The UK is a natural partner for China in BRI cooperation. The special representative of the Prime Minister of the UK has attended both sessions of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. China and the UK are also committed to working together in third markets. We have signed an agreement on such cooperation and worked together on financing, expertise and services.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The productive China-UK business cooperation has delivered tangible benefits to the peoples of our two countries: China-invested electric, low-emission cabs are running in the streets of London. British food found their way to the dinner tables of Chinese families with the facilitation of, among others, the China International Import Expo. Chinese companies in the UK generated tax revenue and job opportunities for local communities and contributed to the transformation and upgrading of British businesses and the high-quality development of British industries. Going forward, I am confident that our cooperation will enjoy enormous potential and promising prospects if China and the UK can follow three principles.
First, we should bear in mind the big picture, respect each other and strengthen mutual trust. History tells us that when the principles of mutual respect and equality are followed, and international law and the basic norms governing state-to-state relations are observed, China-UK relationship will move forward; otherwise, it will suffer setbacks or even retrogression. A sound and stable China-UK relationship is not only in the common interests of our peoples but also conducive to world peace and development. It is important that China and the UK always have in mind the big picture and long-term interests, view each other’s development as opportunities, rather than challenges or threats, and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, so as to ensure the sustained and sound growth of China-UK relations and foster favourable conditions for deeper and productive cooperation between our two countries.
Second, we should follow the major trend of our times and shore up confidence. Today, the world is experiencing the most profound changes in a century. These changes are happening not only amidst a pandemic unseen in a century. They have also come against surging unilateralism, protectionism and anti-globalization sentiments, and growing uncertainties and instabilities in many places of the world. For those of us who are committed to promoting China-UK cooperation, there are both opportunities and challenges. It is important that we remain confident in the major trend of economic globalization, in the prospects of China’s opening up and development, and in the future of China-UK mutually-beneficial cooperation. With such confidence, we should hold high the banner of free trade, work together to build an open world economic and ensure an open, inclusive, balanced and win-win economic globalization.
Third, we should seek and seize opportunities to deepen cooperation. China and the UK have highly-matching development strategies and complementary economies. At the moment, both our two countries are at a new, important development stage: China is opening a new chapter. We will soon roll out the 14th Five Year Plan and continue on the journey of building a modern social country in all aspects. The “dual circulation” development paradigm encourages a reinforcing interaction between the domestic and international markets. It means China will pursue high-quality growth and will open up wider and deeper. The UK has just completed Brexit. It is now entering into a new stage of building a “global Britain” and expanding global partnership network. China and the UK should leverage our respective strengths, coordinate our policies and dovetail our growth strategies. We should deepen cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, infrastructure, financial services and high and new technology, and make them more productive. This will boost development and prosperity in both our countries and deliver more benefits to our peoples.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China-UK business cooperation has been productive and successful. This would not have been possible without the hard work of the business communities from both sides, especially CBBC. Over the years, CBBC has made vigorous efforts to connect the Chinese and British business communities. You have also shared invaluable ideas and thoughts on deepening business cooperation between our two sides. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, CBBC has brought Chinese and British business and financial institutions together to donate funds and supplies. It was a touching story of Chinese and British business communities taking concrete actions in time of difficulties and joining hands to fight the pandemic. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to you for your contribution to China-UK cooperation! My special thanks go to my old friends and the chairs of CBBC, Lord Sassoon, Sir Sherard and Sir David! Thank you for your all out support and assistance to me in the past eleven years!
I sincerely hope that my friends from the business sector will, as you always do, continue supporting China-UK relations and mutually beneficial cooperation. I also hope you will continue supporting the work of the Chinese Embassy and my successor the new ambassador. Your wisdom and efforts will continue to be the valuable source of strength for the steady and sound development of China-UK relations.
In 22 days, it will be the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox. In the Chinese culture, the Ox is a symbol of loyalty, hard work and prosperity. I would like to take this opportunity to send you my very best and early wishes for a Happy Chinese New Year! I wish you health and success! And I hope our friendship lasts forever!