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Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Screening of the Documentary The New Stories of Zhejiang: Tell China's Stories and Cement the Foundation of Friendship

(From Chinese Embassy in UK)

2019/12/18

Lord Bates and Xuelin,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends:

Good evening and welcome to the Chinese Embassy!

It is a real delight to have you all with us at tonight's screening of the documentary The New Stories of Zhejiang, which features the walking journey of Lord Bates and his wife Xuelin.

Lord Bates and Xuelin are good friends of mine. They both love hiking. And they are both supporters and builders of China-UK friendship. Over the years, they have completed a number of hiking trips in China with the sincere wish of promoting understanding of China here in the UK and around the world. They have scaled mountains and crossed rivers, leaving footprints in China. They have opened the eyes of their minds and hearts to the changes and progress in China. They have put their sweat and toil into this great project called China-UK friendship.

On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, I would like to pay high tribute to Lord Bates and Xuelin. Please accept our heartfelt thanks!

It is gratifying that their month-long walking journey in Zhejiang Province from end of summer to early autumn has been documented in The New Stories of Zhejiang. This TV documentary offers a vivid glimpse into their experience during the journey.

Last October, The New Stories of Zhejiang had its global debut in Beijing. It was later aired on CNBC, on The Wall Street Journal website, on China Central Television and on a number of new media outlets. The reception has been warm and positive.

By telling China's stories, this documentary answers three important questions:

First, what is China like in the new era?

In this documentary, Lord Bates and Xuelin set out on a walking journey in China searching for answers to poverty reduction, the Belt and Road Initiative and the idea that "clear waters and green mountains are as valuable as mountains of gold and silver". They visited Xiajiang village; they went to Yiwu, the starting point of China Railway Express; and they spent time in the ancient tea village of Pan'an.

On their journey, they tried to find out about the connection between Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and different places and people in China, and what kind of guidance it offered to local development. From their unique perspective, they share with the audience their findings and understanding of the new thoughts and new reforms of China in the new era.

The second question is, what is China like in the eyes of ordinary Chinese?

During their walking journey in China, Lord Bates and Xuelin documented the life and work of ordinary people they met, from village party secretary to farmers and workers, from entrepreneurs of private businesses to painters and returned overseas Chinese.

The documentary offers a panoramic view of the relentless hard-work of ordinary Chinese who, in a most sincere and touching way, share their personal experience of the achievements of New China in the past 70 years and their aspiration for an even better life.

The third question is how to understand a real China?

People-to-people bond holds the key to state-to-state relations. Mutual understanding is the precondition for mutual trust between China and the UK. It is also the foundation of people-to-people bond.

Lord Bates said in the documentary, "To understand China, you need to undertake a complete shift of thinking. You need to be prepared to leave your cultural baggage on the carousel in the airport."

I fully agree with him. To understand the real China, one needs to rid oneself of all prejudices and biases, get an objective perspective, open up the mind, and adopt an inclusive attitude. Only by doing so can one see the real China and appreciate her vivid and true stories. Only then can we cement the public foundation for China-UK friendship.

From its unique angle, The New Stories of Zhejiang tries to tell China's stories. In this day and age, there is a great need to tell the stories of China in the new era because this enables China to embrace the world, this helps the world understand China, and this enhances trust and cooperation between China and the UK.

The walking journey of Lord Bates and Xuelin has been a "Walk of Friendship". It is my sincere hope that their endeavour will encourage more and more British friends to visit China, to learn more about China and understand China. In doing so, you will make more contribution to China-UK friendship and to China-UK mutual trust!

Thank you!

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