Speech by Acting Consul General Mme Hou Danna at the online event celebrating the 73rd Chinese National Day
Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson MSP,
Lord Provost Robert Aldridge,
Representatives from the Chinese community,
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Good morning! A very warm welcome for joining us to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Consulate-General in Edinburgh. I’m grateful for everyone who cares for and supports the China-UK and China-Scotland relationship.
Since the founding of the PRC, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, Chinese people united as one and worked very hard to transform China from poor and backward to independent and self-reliant. In particular in the last decade, the average economic growth of China is 6.5%, contributing to over 30% of the global growth. China is committed to innovation-driven development. In 2021 alone, China submitted nearly 70 thousand patent applications through the International Patent System, the most applications worldwide for the consecutive 3 years. China has succeeded in eradicating extreme poverty all over the country with almost 100 million being lifted out of destitution. That also saves China 10 years to meet United Nations’ ending poverty goal. As China has established world’s largest social security system, our average life expectancy reached 78.2 years. All 56 ethnic groups in China are equally eligible for common prosperity. Ethnic regions including Xinjiang and Xizang have made great strides economically and socially. Their average disposable income grow 10% on a yearly basis. China is committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment. The legal system has been constantly improved to protect women from discrimination and abuse. China is also committed to freedom of religious belief and manages religious affairs in accordance with the law.
China firmly pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and plays its due role as a major responsible country. In global response to the pandemic, we have offered 2.2 billion vaccine doses to over 120 countries and international organizations. China adheres to green development. In order to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, we have come up with a series of key policies and measures. China leads the world in hydro, wind, solar and biomass power capacity. For the past decade, China becomes greener with an additional forest area covering almost 640 thousand square kilometers, which is 8 times as big as Scotland.
In the third year of the pandemic, China as well as the whole international community is continue to combat the impacts of COVID. China always put people’s lives first as it is the most important human right. Thanks to the dynamic-zero policy, we keep the infection rate and death rate as low as possible. In terms of the recovery, China’s economy managed to secure a positive growth against tough headwinds with 2.5% growth in the first half of this year. China’s GDP expanded to £7 trillion pounds and the total trade volume grew by 9.4%.
In about two week’s time, the CPC’s 20th National Congress is to be held in Beijing. It will draw blueprint for the development of China in the next five or more years and will also draft plans for making greater contribution to the world peace and development.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made important contribution to Sino-UK relations. President Xi Jinping's Special Representative Vice President Wang Qishan attended the state funeral for Her Majesty last week, and extended sincere condolences to the British royal family, government and people. His Majesty King Charles III sent a verbal message to the Chinese side, reiterating the British royal family attaches importance to the development of UK-China relations. Deputy Prime Minister Coffey also emphasized that the UK is willing to strengthen cooperation with China in economy and trade, environment, climate change and multilateral affairs. These high-level interactions are helpful in overcoming difficulties and bringing the bilateral relations back to track. As a mark of respect, the national flag was flown at half-mast at the Consulate-General and I observed the national moment of reflection on the evening of 18 September. I had the privilege to attend the thanksgiving service held at St Giles’ Cathedral to pay my respect and tribute. I felt firsthand Scottish people’s love and admiration for the Queen.
In the past 25 years since the establishment of the Consulate General, pragmatic cooperation in politics, trade, culture, technology, energy, education and other areas have witnessed rapid development. The Scottish government has issued 3 strategic documents on cooperation with China, with the latest titled Scotland's Commitment To A Strong, Long-term, Bilateral Partnership with China in 2018, which indicates Sino-Scotland cooperation fits Scotland’s schedule of internationalization. Thanks to market complementarity, China is now a major importer of Scottish salmon and whisky and the largest exporter to Scotland.
I have to point out that green development is the predominant feature of our engagement, with the zero-emission electric bus partnership between Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and China’s BYD and 2 billion pounds Chinese investment into Scottish onshore and offshore wind power sector.
At the local level, 6 pairs of sister cities have been connected, an epitome of our friendly relations. 5 Confucius institutes and 44 Confucius Classrooms are hubs for language learning and exchange of cultures, which also facilitates the training of talents with international vision by the Scottish education sector.
I have got another impressive data. As many as 20 thousand Chinese students are studying in Scotland, an increase of dozens of times, compared to 20 years ago. Among them ten thousand are based in Edinburgh. They call Edinburgh as “loveburgh”, meaning the city of love. Statistics shows that in 2021, Chinese students contributed £2.1 billion pounds, which was 7% of all revenue to the UK’s education sector. Although I have no further data, I believe Chinese students here also boost local education, tourism and catering sectors.
As for this year, Sino-Scotland relations has been on the right track, despite the impact of covid-19.
We see increase of visits. This June, during his visit to Scotland, Chinese Ambassador to UK, Mr. Zheng Zeguang reached broad consensus on consolidating friendly relations and pragmatic cooperation with Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson and other partners from government, business community and universities. Chinese Vice Minister of Agriculture visited Scotland (Highland). Our Vice Minister of Culture virtually attended the Edinburgh International Culture Summit.
We have more connectivity. Travels are more convenient with visa service to China largely restored to normality and direct fight between China and UK resumed. The first direct China-Scotland shipping route was launched by bringing over 1 million bottles of whisky and other goods to China. This year there is a new way to eat Chinese mooncakes with whisky, which is believed to make whisky even more popular in China.
We made progress in green partnership. This June, Kunming has become a signatory to the Edinburgh Declaration.
We support people to people exchange. The Edinburgh International Festival was back this summer after 2 years suspension and celebrated its 75th anniversary. Many congratulations on that! We will encourage more Chinese art troupes to join the Festival and promote culture exchange.
Since its establishment, the Consulate-General has been caring for the local ethnic Chinese and Chinese nationals, and advocating solidarity and prosperity. With people’s interests prioritized, we have been constantly bettering our service. The Chinese community here plays an important role in enriching mutual understanding, fostering friendship and linking cooperation between China and Scotland. At the same time, the Scottish side also help ethnic Chinese and Chinese nationals integrate into the society. During the pandemic, they reciprocated assistance and support to tide over the difficulties, and compose a new chapter of friendship.
When the Consulate-General was opened in 1997, local Chinese, especially those from Hong Kong, offered indispensable support in terms of purchase of premises and logistics. This years also marks the 25th Anniversary of Hong Kong's Return to the Motherland. With the "One country, Two systems" principle, Hong Kong has been moving forward in all aspects, with GDP growing from 150 to 340 billion Pounds. The Hong Kong National Security Law only targets those who attempt to split the country, subvert state power, and organize and carry out terrorist activities, as well as foreign and external forces seeking to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs. Their activities are different from lawful demonstrations, thus not permitted and will not achieve anything. Opinion polls show 72% of Hong Kong residents have stronger confidence for future development with National Security Law in effect.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
As the biggest developing country, China’s target is to meet people's aspiration for a better life. Other than this, China has no other agenda. China never seek expansion, hegemony or spheres of influence. Never had China occupied any inch of foreign territory. We absolutely oppose the so-called China threat spin. Facts have proven that China is an opportunity, not a threat.
In retrospect, despite the huge differences in language, culture, social and political system, Sino-Scottish cooperation has brought tangible benefits to the people. Looking ahead, China stands ready, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to work with Scotland to overcome difficulties brought by the pandemic and expand bilateral cooperation to achieve common development and to make contribution to global governance.
To close my speech, I wish my motherland thriving prosperity and long live China-Scotland friendship. I wish each and everyone of you good health and happiness.
Thank you all!
CONSULATE-GENERAL OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA IN EDINBURGH 2009 Copyright