On 22 March 2017, Chinese Consul General Pan Xinchun held a reception for the Cross Party Group on China at the Scottish Parliament and the Scotland China Association at the Consulate General, celebrating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level between China and the UK as well as the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Consulate General in Edinburgh. More that 70 guests attended the celebrations, including Mrs. Mary Fee MSP, Convener of the Cross Party Group on China, Mr. John Scott MSP , Mr. Colin Smyth MSP, Mr. Dean Loackhart MSP, Ms. Annie Wells MSP, Mr. Richard Lyle MSP and Mrs. Janice Dickson, Chairman of the Scotland China Association.
Consul General Pan, Convener Fee MSP of the CPG on China and Chairman Dickson of the SCA delivered speeches respectively. Consul General Pan reviewed the history of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UK. He said that Britain is the first Western country recognizing New China in 1950 after the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. China and the UK established diplomatic relations at the charge d'affaires level on 17th June 1954 which was upgraded to ambassadorial level on 13 March 1972. Over the past 30 years, the China-UK relations have moved steadily forward in a positive direction despite some ups and downs. From 1997 when Hong Kong was smoothly handed over to China, the China-UK relationship entered a new phase of all-round development. In October 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a historic "Super State Visit" to the UK, opening an enduring, open and win-win "Golden Era" for the China-UK relations. During the visit, China and the UK committed both nations to build a global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century. As a result of the visit, 59 accomplishments were achieved and cooperation agreements worth 40 billion pounds signed. In September2016, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Theresa May had a successful meeting at the G20 Hangzhou Summit in China, where both leaders reaffirmed the direction for the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations and the ongoing commitment to advancing the China-UK global comprehensive strategic partnership to a new high.
Consul General Pan added that with joint endeavors the current China-UK relationships have seen sea changes incomparable with the past. 45 years ago, the bilateral trade was merely 300 million US dollars, while it reached 78.52 billion US dollars in 2015. The UK has become China's second largest trading partner, second largest investment destination and second largest source of actual investment within the EU. In turn, China remains UK's second largest trading partner outside the EU. 45 years ago saw only a few dozen Chinese students study in the UK, yet today the total number has surpassed 170 thousand, making China the largest source of overseas students for the UK. 45 years ago, around one thousand people traveled between the two countries every year, but today thousands of visits take place each day. 45 years ago, no one could have imagined that today the two countries are so enthusiastic and active in building the "Golden Era" of bilateral ties with fruitful achievements in every fields highlighted as follows. First, both sides keep frequent high-level exchanges and China-UK dialogue mechanisms run positively, while a fresh round of Economic and Financial Dialogue, the Meeting of High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism, the High-Level Security Dialogue, the China-UK Regional Leaders Summit and the China-UK Leadership Forum are held successfully. Through these effective communications, China and the UK have maintained good coordination and cooperation on global governance, climate change, free trade, sustainable development,peacekeeping, counter-terrorism and other international and regional affairs, showing strong sense of responsibilities as big nations. Second, China and Britain have worked closely within such frameworks as the G20, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the building of the Belt and Road. The bilateral trade and investment was further expanded with the establishment of the Regional Cooperation Joint Working Group, the first of its kind between China and an European country. Third, the Chinese RMB sovereign bond was issued in London for the first time, and the Hinkley Point Nuclear project of China, Britain and France was officially launched already, demonstrating China and the UK have achieved notable outcomes in financial and nuclear cooperation. Fourth, China and Britain beganissuing two-year multi-entry visas to each other's nationals and increased flightcapacities, facilitating mutualvisits while promoting people-to-peopleexchanges.
Consul General Pan pointed out that against the backdrop of the sound momentum of the growing Sino-UK relationship, cooperation between China and Scotland has also moved forward simultaneously and reaped many fruits. Since the establishment of the Chinese Consulate General in Edinburgh on 4 November 1997, the relationship between China and Scotland has developed on a fast-track with bright spots in friendly exchanges and the deepening of practical cooperation across various fields. Chinese President Hu Jintao, Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan and Vice Premier Li Keqiang visited Scotland successively. From the Scottish side, three First Ministers have already visited China. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government launched "Strategy for Engagement between Scotland and the People's Republic of China" and other relevant documents to strengthen ties with China. Furthermore, a Scottish Affairs Office was established within the British Embassy in China and the Scottish Development International set up its offices in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong etc., promoting the fast development of relations with China.
Consul General Pan noted that both sides enjoy extensive cooperation in trade and investment. An increasing number of Chinese companies came to invest and develop their businesses in Scotland formutual cooperation and growth, including SINOPEC, PetroChina (China National Petroleum Corporation, CNPC), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), Power Company under the China's State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC), China's online travel firm Ctrip, Chinese Mobile Games Firm Skymoons, Chinese Nanjing San Power Group, Ningxia Zhongyin Cashmere Company and Chinese Automobile Company BYD, etc.. In the same time, more than fifty Scottish companies have opened their offices or set up their branches in China, covering areas of renewables,low-carbon economy and environmental protection, life sciences, digital technology, architectural design, electromechanical equipment, ship building, textile,medical treatment and health care,education, economy and trade, tourism, golf, food and drinks,etc.. Today, Scottish golf, whiskey and salmon are well known and popular in China.
Consul General Pan introduced the vibrant exchanges between Chinese and Scottish local governments, saying that five pairs of citieswere twinned earlier, conducting exchanges and cooperation among them. In recent years, more engagements have been carried out by other cities. For example, the reciprocal Shenzhen-Edinburgh International Creative Industries Incubation Centers were settled respectively in each cities, the Nanjing-Edinburgh Joint Photo Exhibition of History and Culture was held, the Friendship and Cooperation between Shandong Province and Scotland is developing, and the education exchanges and cooperation between Tianjin and Scotland are growing. Currently, Shanghai Jiading District and Minhang District start discussions on establishing friendly ties with South Ayrshireand Falkirkrespectively. These activities between both cities have enlarged cooperation areas between China and Scotland and contributed to enhancing understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
Consul General Pan mentioned that cultural interactions and people-to-people exchanges between our two sides have been intensified year on year. Since the signing of "The Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China and the Scottish Government on the Promotion of Cultural Collaboration and Exchange", two Vice Ministers of the Chinese Ministry of Culture visited Scotland, attending the Edinburgh International Culture Summit. In addition, Chinese artistic troupes are very active in participating in the Edinburgh Festivals and deliver spectacular performances, including the PLA Military Band, the National Ballet of China, the National Theatre Company of China and the world-renowned pianist Mr. Lang Lang. In 2016 alone, about forty Chinese artistic troupes came and performed in Edinburgh Festival. On the other hand, Scottish artistic troupes also made frequent visits to China, including the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scotland's National Ballet Company, the Scotland's National Youth Bagpipe Band and the Glasgow City Choir etc.. All in all, the cultural exchanges between China and Scotland are extremely successful and unprecedented.
At the same time, cooperation in education is another successful story. Scotland enjoys the highest coverage rate of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classroom Hubs in the world. At present, five Confucius Institutes and twenty two Confucius Classroom Hubs have been established in Scotland with another twelve Hubs to be established in the future, covering more than three hundred Scottish schools where around twenty eight thousand students from primary and secondary schools learn Chinese language and culture. Scottish universities are enjoyingclose collaborationswith Chinese institutions of higher learning in various ways. In the same time, around ten thousand Chinese students are studying in Scottish universities. Furthermore, the two Chinese super stars, Tiantian and Yangguang are residing at the Edinburgh Zoo and a special "Chinese Scottish Tartan" was designed, a symbol of friendship between our two peoples.
Consul General Pan emphasized that as respectively the world's second and fifth largest economies, China and the UK enjoy strong complements and broad prospects for extensive cooperation in wide areas of economy, trade and investment, finance, science and technology, culture and education, creative industry. The Sino-UK friendship is in the fundamental interests of the two peoples and complies with the trend of times. Both countries will seize the opportunity of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of ambassadorial diplomatic relations to continue to forge bilateral ties ahead and work together to open a new chapter in history for the "Golden Era" of bilateral relations. At the same time, the Chinese Consulate General in Edinburgh will, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, join hands with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament as well as other social sectors such as the Cross Party Group and the Scotland China Association, to make new contributions to the development of more fruitful cooperation in various fields between our two sides, pushing the bilateral ties to a new high.
Convener Fee MSP expressed that some people may think with a far distance between Scotland and China, both sides have little in common. However, these ideas are incorrect in terms of the close cooperation in culture and education as well as the ever growing businesses between Scotland and China. Further evidence of this, in particular, is the success of the Scottish Confucius Institutes which have helped more and more Scottish schools with teaching Mandarin and establishing links with schools in China. She said the bonds of friendship between Scotland and China have been long established and hoped that both sides will build on the success to continue efforts in promoting education and culture exchanges as well as trade and investment. The CPG on China will work with the Chinese Consulate General to push the relations of Scotland and China forward in all areas.
Chairman Dickson reviewed in her speech the activities undertaken by the SCA to enhance the friendship and cooperation between Scotland and China since its founding in 1966. She expressed that, over a long time, the association introduced China to Scottish people by producing the journal Sine, organizing lectures with wide topics regularly and shooting and showing a documentary about the Silk Road along Dunhuang under the Belt and Road Initiative. In recent years, the SCA has continued to promote the collaborations of schools and governments between Scotland and China in partnership with the Scottish Confucius Institutes and the Scotland China Education Network, promoting people-to-people friendly exchanges. In future, the SCA will be more than happy to continue working with the Consulate General to grow and deepen the friendship between Scotland and China.
Consul General Pan also gave an introduction in his speech of the political, economic and social development in China, the "Two Sessions" of the NPC and the CPPCC as well as the progress of the B&R. Photos on the establishment of Sino-UK diplomatic relations and the growth of bilateral tiesand a documentary of the Roof of the World on thedevelopment of modern Tibet were also displayed at the two-hour reception. Guests said that the reception is conducive to increasing theirknowledge about relationships of the UK, Scotland and China in the past, present and future as well asChina's achievements in development. They are willing to continue to play positive roles in advancing exchanges and cooperation between the two sides to a new high.