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Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the APPCG Webinar: Stay Committed to Win-Win Cooperation

Chinese Embassy in the UK | Updated: 2020-06-24 18:20

Chairman Richard Graham,

Vice Chairmen,

My Lords and MPs,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning!

It is a real delight to join you online.

The last APPCG event I attended was Chinese New Year reception at the Palace of Westminster early this year. A lot have happened in the past five months.

The continued spread of Covid-19 is bringing profound changes to the world. This pandemic has not only changed our way of meeting and communicating but also posed unprecedented challenges to mankind.

Against this background, there have been discussions and debates on China-UK relationship here in this country. Some people think it could no longer be "business as usual" after the epidemic is over. Some call for a "review" of the relations and "decoupling" so as to make Britain "less strategically dependent" on China. Some even clamour for a new "cold war" against China.

Of course, the majority still believe that China is an indispensable partner for a "global Britain", and developing relations with China is of critical importance to the UK.

Today, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my understanding of the world and China-UK relationship, especially

-what has changed,

-what has not changed, and

-how to properly handle this important relationship.

Covid-19 has changed the world profoundly in the following four aspects:

First, it has posed grave challenges to global public health.

Covid-19 is the most wide-spread pandemic in the past century. As of today, it has spread to more than 210 countries and regions, infected over 8 million people and claimed over 400,000 lives.

This reminds us that major infectious diseases are still grave challenges to the safety and health of mankind. This is not the first major public health emergency mankind has encountered. It will certainly not be the last. Countries must stand united to fight this battle hand in hand.

Second, Covid-19 has dealt a severe blow to the world economy.

Since the outbreak, global supply and demand have both plunged, international travel and trade have been facing restrictions, and global industrial and supply chains have been under severe strain.

The IMF predicted a 3% contraction in this year's world economy, while the WTO's prediction for international trade is 13-32% contraction. There is a risk that this might evolve into the most severe recession since the Great Depression of the last century.

Currently many countries are bringing their economies gradually back on track, but an overall recovery for the world economy remains a daunting task.

Third, Covid-19 is a grave test to global governance.

In face of the unprecedented challenges of our times, mankind needs unprecedented solidarity and cooperation. This is true in epidemic response. This is also true for economic recovery. It means countries must uphold multilateralism.

However, some countries are doing the opposite,

-resorting to unilateralism and protectionism,

-taking advantage of the pandemic to "decouple" economies,

-stigmatizing other countries,

-And even clamouring for a new "cold war".

Such moves severely undermine the joint response to global public health crisis and pose grave challenges to the post-War international governance system and multilateral mechanisms.

Fourth, Covid-19 has reminded the world that all mankind belong to a community with a shared future.

Solidarity and cooperation are the most effective weapons to win the battle against the virus.

The more difficulties and challenges we face, the more we need exchanges and cooperation in order to build up consensus and strengthen confidence.

The more misgivings and doubts we encounter, the more we need mutual learning between different civilisations in order to draw strengths from others and achieve common progress.

In face of the major challenges of Covid-19,

-Do we remain open or hide behind closed doors?

-Do we embrace cooperation or descend to confrontation?

-Do we build bridges or erect walls?

-Do we pursue win-win results or play the zero-sum game?

These questions test the wisdom, reason and sense of responsibility of every country in the world.

The world is experiencing profound changes. So is China-UK relationship. However, I think China-UK ties remain unchanged in the following three aspects.

First, the global and strategic importance of this relationship remains unchanged.

As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the UK are both countries with global influence. We both have on our shoulders the important mission of safeguarding world peace and development.

In recent years,

-China and the UK have engaged in sound cooperation within the frameworks of the UN, the G20 and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

-We have extensive common interests in upholding multilateralism, free trade and the rule-based international system.

-In particular, we share consensus on building an open world economy and promoting reform in global governance.

China and the UK have played an active and leading role in international cooperation on environmental protection and climate change. We have maintained communication and supported each other in hosting COP15 and COP26 in our respective countries.

Our two countries have also had close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues. We have contributed to the political settlement of hot-spots issues such as the Iran nuclear programme, the Korea Peninsula and Syria. Such efforts have provided more stability and certainty for the world.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, China and the UK have coordinated our policies and shared experience. We worked with each other on R&D of vaccine and medicines, supported each other with medical supplies and engaged in international cooperation.

Earlier this month, China's Premier Li Keqiang attended the Global Vaccine Summit hosted by the UK Government. He announced China's donation to GAVI.

-Both our two countries support the leading role of WHO in the global response to the pandemic.

-Both believe we should help developing countries fight the pandemic and achieve economic recovery and social development.

-Both emphasize greater accessibility and affordability of vaccine in developing countries.

China-UK joint response to Covid-19 adds new contents to our bilateral relationship. There is a great deal our two countries can do together to make new contribution to safeguarding and improving global public health.

Second, the complementarity and win-win nature of China-UK relationship remains unchanged.

The economies of our two countries are highly complementary; Our interests are deeply intertwined; And our mutually-beneficial cooperation has been expanding.

The UK is the third largest trading partner of China in the EU. It is the largest destination for Chinese investment in Europe. China is the third largest export market for the UK.

China-UK cooperation is both vigorous and resilient. Even Covid-19 can not stop us.

In March this year, I attended the event marking the acquisition of British Steel by China's Jingye Group. This deal saved 3,200 jobs for the local community. But that is not all because Jingye also pledged 1.2-billion-pound investment in the next ten years to transform and upgrade British Steel.

Last week, as Shanghai-London Stock Connect marked its first anniversary, China Pacific Insurance Group listed its Global Depository Receipts on the London Stock Exchange. This was a new highlight of China-UK financial cooperation despite the challenge from Covid-19.

China is one of the first countries to have brought Covid-19 under control and restarted the economy.

At the "Two Sessions" concluded last month, the Chinese Government emphasized once again that no matter how the world might change, China will remain committed to deeper reform and further opening up.

At the moment, the Chinese Government is

-taking further steps to implement the Foreign Investment Law;

-shortening the negative list for foreign investment by a large margin;

-promoting the building of pilot free trade zones and free trade ports;

-and fostering a level-playing field for domestic and foreign businesses.

China is faced with opportunities to accelerate its economic transformation and upgrading. The outbreak of Covid-19 has revealed the enormous vitality and potential of "stay-home economy", "cloud office", digital economy, artificial intelligence, and health care. There is every reason to believe that China will remain a major powerhouse for world economic growth.

The steady recovery of China's economy will create more opportunities for China-UK business cooperation. It will also help the UK realize economic recovery and achieve greater development after Brexit.

Third, the mutual appeal of our cultures and the fact that there is so much we can learn from each other remains unchanged.

China and the UK differ in history, culture, social system and development stage. But our history and culture are both time-honoured and splendid.

Recent years have witnessed close exchanges and cooperation between our two countries in the areas of education, culture, science and technology, youth, sports and tourism. This has enhanced mutual understanding, promoted cultural integration, strengthened the bond between our peoples and will ultimately enable us to carry on China-UK friendship from generation to generation.

Going forward, our two countries could adopt a more inclusive attitude and a broader vision, transcend differences in our cultures, and tear down the ideological fence. We should enhance understanding of each other's culture and development path, deepen exchanges and cooperation in all areas, and become a shining example of open and inclusive exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations.

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