Serve with Sincerity All the Way Through
Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Farewell Reception for Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and Madam Hu Pinghua
Chinese Embassy in the UK, 25 January 2021
Director General Bates,
My Lords and MPs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining me and my wife Hu Pinghua at our Farewell Reception online. In December 2009, I was appointed New China’s eleventh Ambassador to the UK. In February 2010, I arrived in London to take up my post. Now I have been working and living in the UK for eleven years. This is the longest and last tour of my diplomatic career of 47 years. It has been 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. I will cherish the memory deeply for the rest of my life.
These eleven years have seen tremendous changes in both China and the world. As President Xi Jinping said, the world is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century. In these eleven years, I have witnessed historic leaps in China’s development, a new era for socialism with Chinese characteristics, historic changes in the relations between China and the rest of the world, and the ups and downs, and twists and turns in China-UK relations. Here in the UK, I have witnessed four general elections and two referendums. I have observed the entire process of the UK leaving the EU and embarking on the journey of building a “global Britain”. And I have had the honour of working with, among others, four Prime Ministers and six Foreign Secretaries. I have been to all corners of the UK, from Yell of Shetland Islands in the north to the Channel Islands in the south, from England to Scotland, from Northern Ireland to Wales, and from the Crown dependencies to overseas territories. I have worked with people from all walks of life in this country to advance China-UK cooperation across the board. Altogether I have made over 700 speeches, contributed more than 170 articles to mainstream newspapers and had over 170 interviews with mainstream media.
As President Xi Jinping said, if you never forget why you started, you can accomplish your mission. At an interview with the British magazine Diplomat eleven years ago upon arrival, I used the acronym “IDEA” to summarize my missions as Chinese Ambassador to the UK: I is for “interests”: I will work to expand the common interests of China and the UK; D is for “dialogue”: I will promote dialogue, which is always better than confrontation; E is for “exploration”: I will provide facilitation for our two sides to explore new areas for cooperation; And A is for “accommodation”: I will highlight the principles of mutual respect, understanding and accommodation in our bilateral relations. For the past eleven years, I have kept these missions in mind and worked tirelessly with people from all sectors in the UK to bring China-UK relations forward.
First, our common interests have grown. The pie is getting bigger and bigger. In the past eleven years, China-UK trade in goods almost doubled, with British export to China increasing by about 20 times, making China the third largest market for British export of goods. Chinese investment in the UK has surged by about 20 times. The UK is now the second largest destination in Europe for Chinese investment. Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has been the largest investment from China in Europe and become a flagship project of China-UK cooperation. There have been many “first’s” in China-UK financial cooperation. The UK was the first major Western country to issue RMB sovereign bond and to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. London also witnessed the issuance of the first Chinese RMB sovereign bond outside China. London is now the world’s largest offshore RMB exchange centre and the second largest offshore RMB clearing centre. The total clearing volume has exceeded 50 trillion RMB yuan. 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 benefit from London’s world-class financial services. China and the UK are also committed to working together to promote the high quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative and we have signed an agreement on cooperation in third markets.
Second, China and the UK have more dialogue mechanisms for exchanging views at the top level. Leaders of our two countries have maintained communication and exchanges and this provides driving forces for the growth of China-UK relations. In the past eleven years, China and the UK have held 5 sessions of the Prime Minister’s Meeting, 5 sessions of the Strategic Dialogue, and 8 sessions of the Economic and Financial Dialogue. Our two sides also launched the High-level People-to-People Dialogue and the Security Dialogue. The definite highlight of these exchanges was President Xi Jinping’s “super state visit” to the UK in 2015. This milestone event bore historic significance, ushered in the China-UK “Golden Era”, and left an indelible mark in the history of China-UK relations.
Third, China and the UK have explored broader areas for international coordination. In face of the ever-changing international situation, China and the UK have enhanced coordination under the framework of various international organizations, such as the UN and the G20. We share growing consensus in supporting multilateralism and free trade, opposing unilateralism and protectionism and addressing global challenges such as climate change. We have also maintained communication and coordination on international and regional hotspot issues. In recent years, our two countries have worked vigorously to promote cooperation on climate response and green development. Later this year, China and the UK will host COP15 and COP26 respectively. Our two sides are working on synergy between the two conferences to make them successful so as to enhance cooperation on climate response, promote green development and take the lead in global governance on the environment.
Fourth, China and the UK have enhanced mutual respect, trust and accommodation but daunting tasks still remain. Thanks to the concerted efforts of people from all walks of life in both countries, China and the UK have deepened mutual understanding and cemented public support for bilateral relations. In the past eleven years, annual mutual visits between our two countries have doubled, reaching two million. The number of Chinese students in the UK also doubled, reaching 220,000. The UK has become the top destination for Chinese students who want to study overseas. Fruitful results have been achieved in exchanges and cooperation in areas of culture, science and technology, and innovation. The UK was the first country to sign the Joint Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation with China. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the peoples of our two countries have come to each other’s aid and tackled the difficulties together. There have been numerous touching moments.
China and the UK differ in political system, development stage, history and culture. It is natural that we do not always see eye to eye. China-UK relationship has not always been smooth sailing in the past eleven years. But the history of China-UK relations tells us that when the principles of mutual respect and equality are followed, and when international law and the basic norms governing state-to-state relations are observed, the China-UK relationship will transcend differences and move forward along the right track. At the moment, the worst pandemic in a hundred years is ravaging the world, precipitating the profound changes unseen in a century and bringing deep adjustments to the international landscape. The world is facing an important choice between cooperation and confrontation, between dialogue and division and between openness and closedness. Against such a backdrop, China and the UK, as major countries of global influence, shoulder the important mission of safeguarding world peace and development. I sincerely hope that China and the UK will see the big picture, follow the megatrend and work with each other in the same direction. A sound and stable China-UK relationship will benefit the people of both countries and beyond.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I am about to leave the UK, I have received warm letters from many British friends. I thank you for your recognition of my work in promoting China-UK exchanges and cooperation. I also appreciate your best wishes to me, Pinghua and my family. I am deeply touched. Many beautiful moments keep coming back. They remind me of the work I have done for better China-UK relations and the friends I have made and worked together toward this goal. They will be my sweetest and most deeply cherished memories. I would like to express my most sincere thanks to all the friends who have cared for and supported China’s development and China-UK friendship, and who have provided support and assistance to me in my work!
My thanks also go to my colleagues in the Chinese Embassy in the UK. Over the past eleven years, I have worked with six deputy heads of mission, and hundreds of diplomats and staff. They represent the best of the Chinese diplomatic team. Each one of them is remarkable. I would not have achieved anything without their dedication and efficiency.
Last but not least, I would like to say a big “thank you” to my wife Hu Pinghua. Her understanding and support are my source of strengths. If I had achieved anything, she would be the secret to the success. Now I would like to invite her to make a few remarks.
(Madame Hu made a few remarks.)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
莎士比亚说，“欢迎是永远含笑的，告别总是带着叹息”（Welcome ever smiles, And farewell goes out sighing）。离别时分，我心有不舍，也深感欣慰。过去11年，为了中国外交和中英关系，我精诚如一，不辱使命，无愧于心，善始令终。我衷心祝愿中英友谊地久天长，祝愿中英合作走深走实，祝愿中英关系行稳致远。再过17天，就是中国农历牛年春节。祝愿各位朋友牛年吉祥、身体健康、阖家幸福、诸事顺遂！
Shakespeare said, “Welcome ever smiles, and farewell goes out sighing.” I am reluctant to say farewell. But at the same time, I am pleased that I have accomplished my mission, served my country and worked for China-UK relations with all my heart from the beginning to the end. It is my sincere hope that the China-UK friendship will last forever, China-UK cooperation will become deeper and wider, and China-UK relations will go steady and go far. In 17 days, we will celebrate the Chinese New Year and ring in the Year of the Ox. I wish everyone online a happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Ox!