Sir Ciarán Devane,
Director General Paul Kett,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a real delight to join you at this event.
Let me begin by extending my congratulations to the Generation UK for achieving such fruitful results. I would like to express my appreciation to all those who have cared for, supported and taken part in the Generation UK.
Since the China-UK High-Level People to People Dialogue was launched in 2012, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between our two countries have taken diverse forms, and grown in depth and width.
This is clearly demonstrated in the following figures.
In the past seven years, the number of Chinese students studying in the UK has increased from 120,000 to 190,000.
The number of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in Britain has increased from 20 and 63 to 29 and 161 respectively.
In 2018 alone, 191,000 students were learning the Chinese language and Chinese culture at the Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in Britain.
More than 1.78 million people took part in a rich variety of cultural events hosted by the Confucius Institutes.
The Generation UK has certainly played an important role as a highlight of China-UK cultural and people-to-people exchanges. In the past six years, about 70,000 young British people have visited China for study, internship and exchange events through the Generation UK. I am sure it can reach its goal of sending 80,000 British young people to study in China by 2020.
These figures are proof that China-UK cultural and people-to-people exchanges are full of vitality and enjoy huge potential and a promising future.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It is also the 65th anniversary of the establishment of China-UK diplomatic relationship at the level of chargé d’affaires.
As the world undergoes profound changes unseen in a century, the China-UK “Golden Era” is faced with new opportunities.
Last week, the tenth China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue was successfully held, which produced 69 outcomes. This Dialogue has provided strong impetus for our two sides to deepen cooperation.
Looking forward, there will be broad prospects for our two countries to deepen cooperation across the board. To achieve this, I think we should make the following three efforts:
First, we should build a bridge of mutual learning.
Both China and the UK have time-honoured history and splendid culture, but we differ in social system, cultural tradition and development stage. Therefore, it is important that we enhance communication and understanding.
Every civilisation has its unique beauty. Harmony arises from the ability to appreciate different civilisations for their unique beauty.
Through mutual visits, exchanges and learning, young people of our two countries could learn more about each other’s history and reality. This will lead to better understanding of the differences between civilizations. I hope this will in turn enable the young people to work on exchanges, dialogue and harmonious coexistence between Eastern and Western civilisations. I hope that you would voice your opposition against the absurd claims of “estrangement between civilisations”, “clash of civilisations” and “superiority of one civilisation over the others”.
Second, we should invigorate the passion for innovation.
Young people are the most innovative. Cooperation between the young people on innovation will create a new highlight in China-UK relations.
Innovation is the soul behind the progress of countries and nations. In an era of ever-deepening globalisation, countries need to adopt a global vision in order to encourage scientific and technological innovation.
I hope that China and the UK will continue to work on the Generation UK, China-UK Mathematic Teacher Exchange Programme, and Grants for China-UK Researcher Links workshops. These projects could help broaden the horizon of our young people, create opportunities for them to excel, and foster a new taskforce for China-UK cooperation on innovation. In turn, the young people could become positive contributors to the progress of scientific and technological innovation in the world.
Third, we should sow the seeds of friendship.
Closer bond between the people is the key to enhancing state-to-state relations. It was thanks to public support that China-UK relations achieved progress in the past 65 years. Going forward, our two countries will continue to rely on such support to take our bilateral relations to a higher level.
Therefore, it is important that we build closer cultural and people-to-people bond by deepening exchanges in the areas of culture, education, health care, tourism and media. This will bring people of our two countries, especially the young generation, closer together.
I sincerely hope that the young people of our two countries will carry on the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, enhance friendship through exchanges, and grow together through mutual learning.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The young people are full of vigour and dreams. The future of the world belongs to the young generation. So does the future of China-UK relations.
As President Xi Jinping said, if the young people all around the world have dreams of a better future and the courage to shoulder due responsibilities, there will be hope for mankind. These young people will be an inexhaustible source of strength behind the lofty cause of peace and development of mankind.
In conclusion, I wish the Generation UK a great success. I look forward to your new contribution to the exchanges between the young people of our two countries, to closer bond between our people, and to the China-UK “Golden Era”!