Ambassador heralds ties after 11 years in the UK

2021-01-26 12:05:08

Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom. China and the United Kingdom should always strive to "see the big picture" and continue on the path of bilateral relations they are following without being diverted at a time when the world faces unprecedented changes, China's outgoing ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said on Monday. "The world is facing an important choice between cooperation and confrontation, between dialogue and division, between openness and being closed," he said. "I sincerely hope that China and the UK will see the big picture, follow the major trend, 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." Liu made the remarks during an online farewell reception as he prepared to move on after 11 years as China's ambassador to the UK. He is China's longest-serving ambassador in the history of China-UK relations and likes to use the acronym "IDEA" - interest, dialogue, exploration, and accommodation - to describe the mission he has devoted himself to "from the beginning to the end". "For the past 11 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," he said. During his service, China and the UK have seen a significant growth in their common interests. Official figures show that, from 2010 to 2020, China-UK trade in goods surged from $50.1 billion to $92.4 billion, with British exports to China increasing by about 20 times, making China the third-largest export destination for British goods. By the end of 2019, foreign direct investment, or FDI, from the UK to China totaled $25.39 billion. In the other direction, FDI from China to the UK totaled $17.14 billion. The levels are around 20 times higher than those from the end of 2009, and the UK is now the second-largest destination in Europe for Chinese investment. Despite the achievements, the two nations have experienced differences and difficulties in recent years in a number of areas, particularly those related to China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and to the banning by the UK of the participation of the Chinese telecom company Huawei in the UK's 5G development. As a result, Liu has urged the UK government to view China more comprehensively and objectively on several occasions. Among China's younger people, who follow politics and current affairs closely, the ambassador is warmly regarded for his sharp answers and firm stance while protecting China's core interests. An interview of the ambassador conducted in May for the BBC's HARDtalk program about the novel coronavirus pandemic has attracted millions of views on Chinese social media platform Weibo. "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," he said. "But the history of China-UK relations tells us that when the principles of mutual respect and equality are followed and international law and basic norms governing state-to-state relations are observed, the China-UK relationship will transcend differences and move forward on the right track." He said people are witnessing major changes unfolding around the world, "something unseen in a century", and noted that the global economy is going through profound transitions and changes brought on by the challenges of unilateralism, power politics, and the novel coronavirus pandemic. "China and the UK, as major countries of global influence, share in the important mission of helping to safeguard world peace and development," he said. He also referenced a line from Shakespeare, saying "welcome ever smiles, and farewell goes out sighing" as he announced he would be moving on from his diplomatic career of 47 years. "I'm reluctant to say farewell," he said. "But, at the same time, I'm 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." He added that it is his "sincere hope" that the "China-UK friendship will last forever (and) China-UK cooperation will become deeper and wider, and that China-UK relations will go steady and far".