On 25 January, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and Madam Hu Pinghua held an online farewell reception, where Ambassador Liu delivered a speech entitled Serve with Sincerity All the Way Through. Madam Hu also made a few farewell remarks. Jenny Bates, Director General, Indo-Pacific at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, spoke on behalf of the British side.
Around 500 guests attended the event on-line, including Lord Udny-Lister, Prime Minister’s Chief Strategic Adviser and Downing Street Chief of Staff, Lord Heseltine, former Deputy Prime Minister of the UK, David Lidington, former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Jeremy Hunt, former Foreign Secretary, Sir Oliver Letwin, former Minister for Government Policy in the Cabinet Office, Mark Sedwill, former UK Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service and National Security Adviser, Stanley Johnson, former Member of the European Parliament, Sir Douglas Flint, UK’s Special Envoy to the BRI, Lord Cable, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Powell, Lord Sassoon, Lord Howell, Lord Bates, Lord Green, Lord O'Neill, Lord Wilson, Lord Davidson, Lord McNally, Lord Dobbs, Lord Giddens, Lord Desai, Lord Soley, Richard Graham MP, Chairman of APPCG, Mark Logan MP, Mark Hendrick MP, Lisa Cameron MP, Philip Dunne MP, Liam Byrne MP, Barry Gardiner MP, Alderman William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London, Sir Charles Bowman and Peter Estlin, former Lord Mayors of the City of London, John Le Fondré, UK Chief Minister of Jersey, Peter Weir, Education Minister of Northern Ireland, Alex Maskey, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Frank Ross, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Barney Crockett, Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Anthony Samuels, Chairman of Surrey County Council, Sir Sherard, Chairman of China-Britain Business Council, Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, Mark Tucker, Group Chairman of HSBC, Noel Quinn, Chief Executive of HSBC, Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine in Britain, Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman of Canary Wharf Group, Barnaby Swire, Chairman of Swire Group, José Viñals, Group Chairman of Standard Chartered, Bill Winters, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered, Julia Buckingham, President of Universities UK, Sir Martin Davidson, Chairman of the Great Britain-China Centre, Richard Catlow, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, Michael Wood, President of the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding, David Marsh, Chairman of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, Phil Diamond, Director General of the SKAO, and Richard Hatchett, CEO of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and other representatives from the British government, Parliament, sectors of business, education, culture, science, technology, think tank, and media, and international organizations in the UK, members of London diplomatic corps, Zheng Xiyuan, Ma Qiang, and Zhang Meifang, Consul Generals of China in Manchester, Edinburgh, and Belfast respectively, Fang Wenjian, Chairman of China Chamber of Commerce in the UK, Chu Ting Tang, President of London China Town Chinese Association, Shan Sheng, President of the UK Chinese Association for the Promotion of National Reunification, Christine Lee, Chair of British Chinese Project, as well as representatives from the Chinese community, Chinese entities and overseas Chinese students in the UK.
Ambassador Liu said, it is an honour for him to have worked and lived in the UK for eleven years and to become the longest-serving Chinese Ambassador both in the history of China-UK relations and of all Chinese ambassadors of all time, which he will cherish for the rest of his life. These eleven years have seen tremendous changes in both China and the world, during which he has witnessed the historic leaps in China’s development, a new era for socialism with Chinese characteristics, historic changes in the relations between China and the rest of the world, and the ups and downs, and twists and turns in China-UK relations.
Eleven year ago, “I used the acronym ‘IDEA’ to describe my mission as Chinese Ambassador to the UK: I is for ‘interests’: I will work to expand the common interests of China and the UK; D is for “dialogue”: I will promote dialogue, which is always better than confrontation; E is for “exploration”: I will provide facilitation for our two sides to explore new areas for cooperation; and A is for “accommodation”: I will highlight the principles of mutual respect, understanding and accommodation in our bilateral relations. For the past eleven years, I have kept this mission in mind and worked tirelessly with people from all sectors in the UK to bring China-UK relations forward,” said the Ambassador.
Reviewing the past eleven years, Ambassador Liu said, first, the common interests of China and the UK have grown. The pie is getting bigger and bigger. China-UK trade in goods almost doubled, making China the third largest market for British export of goods. Chinese investment in the UK has surged by about 20 times, making the UK the second largest destination in Europe for Chinese investment. Besides the many “first’s” in their financial cooperation, China and the UK are also committed to working together to promote the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Second, China and the UK have more dialogue mechanisms for exchanging views at the top level. Leaders of the two countries have maintained communication and exchanges, which provides driving forces for the growth of China-UK relations. In the past eleven years, China and the UK have held 5 sessions of the Prime Minister’s Meeting, 5 sessions of the Strategic Dialogue, and 8 sessions of the Economic and Financial Dialogue and launched the High-level People-to-People Dialogue and the Security Dialogue as well.
Third, China and the UK have explored broader areas for international coordination. China-UK coordination under the framework of various international organizations, such as the UN and the G20, has been enhanced. The two countries share growing consensus in supporting multilateralism and free trade, opposing unilateralism and protectionism and addressing global challenges such as climate change. They have also maintained communication and coordination on international and regional hotspot issues. Now, China and the UK are working on synergy between COP15 and COP26, the two conferences to be hosted by China and the UK respectively, to make them successful so as to enhance cooperation on climate response, promote green development and take the lead in global governance on the environment.
Fourth, China and the UK have enhanced mutual respect, trust and accommodation but daunting tasks still remain. Fruitful results have been achieved in exchanges and cooperation in areas of culture, science and technology, and innovation. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the peoples of our two countries have come to each other’s aid and tackled the difficulties together. There have been numerous touching moments. China and the UK have also deepened mutual understanding and cemented public support for bilateral relations.
“China-UK relationship has not always been smooth sailing in the past eleven years. But the history of China-UK relations tells us that when the principles of mutual respect and equality are followed, and when international law and the basic norms governing state-to-state relations are observed, the China-UK relationship will transcend differences and move forward along the right track,” Ambassador Liu noted.
He emphasized that at the moment, the worst pandemic in a hundred years is ravaging the world, precipitating the profound changes unseen in a century and bringing deep adjustments to the international landscape. The world is facing an important choice between cooperation and confrontation, between dialogue and division and between openness and closeness.
“Against such a backdrop, China and the UK, as major countries of global influence, shoulder the important mission of safeguarding world peace and development. I sincerely hope that China and the UK will see the big picture, follow the megatrend 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,” added the Ambassador.
In closing, Ambassador Liu expressed his sincere thanks to all the friends who have cared for and supported China’s development and China-UK friendship, and who have provided support and assistance to the Chinese Embassy and his work, and his appreciation to colleagues in the Chinese Embassy in the UK for their dedication and efficiency. He hoped that “China-UK friendship will last forever, China-UK cooperation will become deeper and wider, and China-UK relations will go steady and go far.”
In her farewell speech, Madame Hu Pinghua said the memory of 11 years in the UK will surely be cherished for the rest of her life. She thanked friends from all walks of life in the UK for their caring and support, and hoped that everyone at the event will continue supporting China-UK relations and bring this important relationship forward.
Director General Bates said, as the longest-serving Chinese Ambassador in the history of all time at China’s first diplomatic mission abroad, Ambassador Liu has witnessed many key moments during his tenure, including President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK in 2015 and the visits of Prime Minister May and Prime Minister Cameron to China in 2018 and 2013 respectively. She extended her thanks to Ambassador Liu and her best wishes to Ambassador Liu and Madame Hu.
Two short videos, Eleven Splendid Years and Review of China-UK Relations, were screened at the reception, reviewing the fruitful outcomes of the exchanges and cooperation between China and the UK in various sectors all these years, and capturing the highlights of the Ambassador’s efforts in promoting China-UK relationship and communicating with all walks of life in the UK.
Hailing the remarkable outcomes of the exchanges and cooperation between China and the UK over the past 11 years in business, finance, education, science, technology, culture, sports, and international affairs, guests at the reception wrote to Ambassador Liu expressing admiration for his contribution to China-UK friendship. With his communication skill and diplomatic charm, the Ambassador has made “Chinese voice” heard loud and clear, and most effectively. They extended their hope that Ambassador Liu and Madame will continue following and supporting China-UK relations, and expressed their readiness to make joint effort in promoting China-UK cooperation at all levels and in all sectors, so as to bring tangible benefits to the two countries and beyond.