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Ambassador Zheng Zeguang Delivered A Speech at the Reception Hosted by the All Party Parliamentary China Group
2023-04-23 18:19

On 18 April, H.E. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang attended a reception co-hosted by the All Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG) and the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) at invitation and delivered a speech. The full text of the speech is as follows:

Promoting the Right Perception for Mutually-beneficial Cooperation

Chair Graham,

Sir Sherard,

Lords and MPs,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to attend this reception, and many thanks to the APPCG and CBBC for the invitation. I would like to express my deep appreciation for your long-standing effort to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation between the Chinese and British people.

Today, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you three points regarding the current China-UK relations, that is, adhere to the right perception, uphold mutual respect, and seek dialogue and cooperation.

First, the right perception.

It has been 22 months now since I arrived in London as the Chinese Ambassador. In my engagements with UK government officials and people from various sectors, and my visits to various parts of Britain, I can feel that people have a keen interest in China, but quite some of them get to know China only through TV, the Internet and newspapers. There are obvious misreadings and misunderstandings about the country. That is why we at the Embassy have made it a top priority to promote mutual understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation.

So what is the biggest reality of China?

China is on a new journey in a new era. Through years of arduous efforts, we have achieved the first Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society. Now we are striving for the second Centenary Goal, that is to build a great modern socialist country. To this end, we will adhere to socialism with Chinese characteristics and take a Chinese path to modernisation.

This is a modernisation drive for a huge population characterised by common prosperity for all, with both material and cultural-ethical advancement, and harmony between man and nature. It is also a path for peaceful development. 

Committed to world peace and common development, we will never tread the old path of war, colonialism and plunder taken by some Western countries in the past. China advancing development through its own path to modernisation is itself a major contribution to world peace and human progress.

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year drew a blueprint for the development of the Party and the country for the next five years and beyond. And the Two Sessions in March mapped out our plan for economic and social development for the year 2023. We are well aware of the many daunting challenges ahead but have full confidence to achieve our goals.

Externally, China continues to follow an independent foreign policy of peace and is committed to working with all countries for a human community with a shared future. President Xi Jinping has put forward the Global Security Initiative and the Global Development Initiative, providing China’s solutions to problems facing world peace and development.

The Ukraine issue is one case in point. Since the outbreak of the crisis, China has been working towards peace talks and a political settlement. Our 12-point Position Paper embodies the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and boils down to promoting peace talks. We call on all countries to work together towards a political settlement, rather than provide weapons and add fuel into the fire. We will continue to promote a political settlement and support all diplomatic efforts to this end.

Some people in the UK choose to characterise China as a “challenge” or even “threat”. This does not reflect reality at all. We have no interest in changing the UK’s social system or way of life. We, actually, wish you well in your current system. Let me emphasise this: China does not pose any challenge or threat to any country. We will only bring shared opportunities for common development.

Second, mutual respect.

As Chinese and British, we are both proud of our respective histories and cultures and our contributions to human civilisation. Due to difference in history, culture and social system, it is only natural for us to have disagreements on certain issues. But what matters is mutual respect.

We believe that countries should respect each others’ sovereignty, territorial integrity and development paths chosen by themselves independently, and oppose anyone to use issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet to meddle in our internal affairs. When it comes to safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, our position is firm and steadfast.

Democracy and human rights are the shared values and common pursuit of humankind, but countries have different realities, and naturally there should be different ways to achieve them. In China, we are committed to the whole-process people’s democracy.

Since the founding of New China 74 years ago, we have lifted over 700 million people out of poverty in rural areas, people’s life expectancy has increased from 35 years to 78.2, and China has become the second largest economy in the world. All these speak to the fact that the path China has chosen suits our national conditions and truly works.

We have no intention to export our development model to any country. On the basis of mutual respect and equality, we are ready to enhance exchanges and mutual understanding on governance with other countries and work together for progress.

Third, dialogue and cooperation.

Today, epoch-defining transformation is unfolding around the world. This is the times calling for solidarity and working together among major responsible countries. Together, we should uphold unity, cooperation, and peace and oppose division, confrontation and cold or hot wars.

Recently, China has hosted French President Macron, European Commission President von der Leyen, Brazilian President Lula, Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez, among other leaders. During their visits, the leaders have all sent the clear message of opposing bloc rivalry or decoupling and disruption of industrial and supply chains. They all spoke up for dialogue and cooperation.

As two permanent members of the UN Security Council and major economies, China and the UK bear important responsibilities for world peace and development. We must stay the course of dialogue and cooperation to create more benefits for our two peoples and inject more positive energy into world peace and stability. The UK should have independent thinking on its relations with China, instead of always blindly following a third country. 

Look at the achievement we have made in China-UK ambassadorial relations over the past 51 years: in 2022, our two-way trade exceeded 100 billion US dollars, and two-way investment stock reached over 50 billion US dollars. Before COVID, as many as 2 million visits were made between our two sides each year, and about 200,000 Chinese students are studying now in the UK. The benefits of such a relationship is indisputable.

Having said that, we must see that the potentials of cooperation are far from being fully tapped. China stands ready to work with the UK to expand cooperation in trade, investment, financial services, education, cultural exchanges, tourism, and sports and broaden cooperation in areas like renewable energy, electric vehicles, battery storage, digital economy, and green finance. Our two countries should also enhance coordination on tackling climate change and preserving biodiversity and make greater contributions to green and low-carbon development across the globe.

The UK used to be the lead among Western countries when it comes to relations with China. It should not lag behind now. So, let’s work in the same direction, focus on cooperation, and properly handle differences on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, so as to bring China-UK relations back onto the track of sustained and healthy development.

We at the Embassy look forward to working closely with the UK government and people from all walks of life towards that end.

Thank you.

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