Liu Xiaoming: Extending the hand of lasting friendship
Understanding each other's heritage will lead to a profitable partnership for China and Scotland
SCOTTISH inventors have made extraordinary contributions to human progress. Chinese students learn about this in their textbooks: James Watt with the steam engine; Alexander Fleming and penicillin; Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone and John Logie Baird with television. Scotland is indeed blessed with abundant resources and ingenious people.
This week will be my third visit to Scotland since I became Chinese ambassador to Britain just over a year ago. I have admired the Highlands, the home of golf, whisky, bagpipes and kilts. But I respect how Scotland does not just rely on its beauty and heritage. I know it is home to a large number of vibrant businesses and world-class universities. These have given birth to many inventions and insights.
More than 200 years ago, another great Scot, Adam Smith, gave the world the insight of his theories of the market economy and free trade. These are of huge global relevance today. The core of free trade is mutual benefit. Today mutual benefit, too, is why China and Scotland are engaged in co-operation.
The strength of co-operation is seen with top-level visitors such as vice-premier Li Keqiang, vice-premier Wang Qishan and state councillor Dai Bingguo. First Minister Alex Salmond is planning his third visit to China. Scotland's leaders see China's development as an opportunity and this comes in clear public statements of strategy. In turn, China maintains a Consulate General in Edinburgh as a measure of commitment to Scotland.
I was with vice-premier Li when he visited Scotland early this year. I was impressed by the profound friendship of the Scottish people. I felt the very keen interest of the Scottish Government and business leaders. But we should be aware that British society as a whole is yet to really understand China. There is a need for wider and deeper understanding. There is a need to get rid of stereotypes about China. Premier Wen Jiabao reflected on this need when he visited Britain in late June. "Countries should respect the history of each other and the creation of their peoples, if they are to build a foundation for lasting friendship," he said.
China is making what we describe as all-round development in the economic, political, social, cultural and environmental fields. It is sad that some people in the West fail to see this point. They tend to criticise China for focusing solely on economic growth while neglecting social progress.
Those critics say China is only carrying out economic reform, not political reform. This is a complete misreading of China's comprehensive reform and development.Political reform has come with economic reform every step of the way in the past three decades. We have seen the growing role of the National People's Congress and multi-party political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party:
• Democratic decision-making and the legal system have been strengthened.
• More than 200 laws were formulated to change the millennium-old pattern of "rule by man" to the "rule of law".
• Life-long tenures of leadership positions are a thing of the past.
• Competitive appointments with public consultation are becoming the norm.
• Respect for and promotion of human rights has been written into the Chinese Constitution.
• The government of China is committed to putting people first as it runs the country. This makes sure that the people enjoy unprecedented rights and freedoms. Wen told British media it is important to learn about each others' history and cultures. A key step is to grasp that China is both new and old. The Chinese people have a history of 5,000 years that adds up to the world's longest continuous civilisation. I hope Scottish children can learn about inventors in China like Chinese students do about Scotland's inventors. Jumping to modern times, it is during the past 32 years that China has managed tremendous changes and achievements:
• We have found a way of development suited to our national conditions.
• We have come up with a development theory tailored to the Chinese reality.
• We have put in place a social system with Chinese characteristics.
• And China is steadily moving towards prosperity and happiness for its people.
China is now the world's second largest economy, but as a developing country China confronts many aspects of our economy that are unbalanced, unsustainable and unco-ordinated.
That is why we in China are following what we call "the scientific thinking on development" to restructure the economy and upgrade our way of growth. By doing so, we hope to improve people's lives and make our economic growth sustainable.
International trade is a key component of that economic growth. China values the opportunities of the Scottish market. Chinese businesses have come to invest in Scotland, attracted by its infrastructure. PetroChina formed a refinery joint venture with Ineos this year at Grangemouth. This has become another flagship project for China-Scotland co-operation. Lenovo and Bank of China both have offices in Scotland. By establishing themselves in Scotland, Chinese businesses are going global, while creating jobs for Scottish people.
China also values Scotland's ability to innovate. Reports by several world-renowned institutes show that China is the world's top investor in renewable energy. In turn, Scotland is a world leaders in renewable and green energy.
Li was most impressed by his visit to the Pelamis wave power project. In other spheres of science, Scotland leads with a large cluster of life sciences industries.China is ready to draw upon and bring in Scotland's advanced technologies and experience:
• China's industrial upgrading and domestic demand stimulation is offering Scotland enormous opportunities.
• Scottish businesses are encouraged to explore the Chinese market and we in China will provide a fair and enabling environment.
• China will honour its commitment under the World Trade Organisation and continue to open up its financial sector.
• We will strengthen IPR protection and make sure foreign businesses can operate in China at ease.
• We will establish an open government purchasing policy and treat Chinese and foreign businesses as equals.
As Wen explained, our relations must be much wider than just business. We need to expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
We very much look forward to the performance of the National Ballet of China and the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe at this year's Edinburgh International Festival. We have more to celebrate: two giant pandas will arrive at the Edinburgh Zoo at the end of this year. These VIPs - or "very important pandas" - will serve as ambassadors of friendship between China and Scotland.
We must increase youth exchanges. Scotland has taken an important lead in promoting mandarin teaching in its schools and universities. We now have two Confucius Institutes in Scotland, and more are coming to universities in Scotland. In turn, thousands of Chinese students are greatly benefiting by studying in Scottish universities. We are also welcoming young Scots to China.
Scotland's national bard has made the song Auld Lang Syne famous worldwide. The huge popularity of that song in China means that Auld Lang Syne has become deeply rooted in the hearts of the Chinese people. It is known in mandarin as You Yi Di Jiu Tian Chang. This translates as "long-lasting friendship".
Let us use long-lasting friendship to create a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for China-Scotland partnership.
• His Excellency Liu Xiaoming is Chinese ambassador to Britain
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east