China and UK should have a right understanding of each other, said China's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Zheng Zeguang on Tuesday, as the two countries each have entered a new development stage and their relationship is facing a new situation.
Zheng expressed his hope during a seminar on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-UK ambassadorial diplomatic relations. Fifty years ago, the two countries signed the Joint Communiqué on an Exchange of Ambassadors, turning a new page for the bilateral relationship.
"Over the past 50 years, China and the UK have gained increasingly wider and deeper knowledge of each other," the ambassador noted, "that being said, we must admit that there is still much misunderstanding here in this country about, among others, China's political system."
He said the right of every country to choose the development path that suits its national conditions should be fully respected.
According to a 10-year survey on China by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Chinese people's rate of satisfaction with their government's performance has been over 90 percent for many years in a row.
The result is echoed by a survey done by Edelman, a top global public relations consultancy firm, showing 91 percent of Chinese citizens interviewed said they trust their government.
Citing these polls, he said China believes that the people of a country are the sole judges of whether the country's system is good.
Another example, he said, is the perception of China's COVID-19 response policy. China's dynamic zero-COVID policy in combating the pandemic has long been questioned by some British media, saying they are too strict and not science-based.
But those measures prove to be effective by China's lowest infection and fatality rates in the world, at 9.4/100000 and 0.4/100000 respectively.
"Different countries have different national conditions and face different COVID situations. We support different countries in adopting different policies based on their national conditions," he said.
On the perception of China's foreign policy, he quoted some rhetoric in UK, which sees China as a "systemic competitor" or even a threat. "But the fact is that China always upholds peace, good neighbourliness and harmony. We adhere to peaceful development," he said.
He added China's development will not pose any threat to any country.
Over the past 50 years, the relationship between China and UK has gone through ups and downs and overcome difficulties and obstacles to achieve "historic progress", said ambassador Zheng, who described the bilateral relationship as "pioneering, extensive and win-win".
He recalled that the UK was the first major Western country to recognize New China, the first to carry out trade with New China, and more recently, the first to apply to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
In May 2021, China has replaced Germany's as the UK's biggest single import market, another indicator of deepening China-UK ties.
Over the past decade, British export to China has increased by 126 percent, which was much higher than the growth rate of Britain's export to other trading partners. The Tou Ying Tracker Report of 2021, an independent investigation conducted by Grant Thornton UK in collaboration with China Chamber of Commerce in the UK and China Daily UK, shows that Chinese companies in the UK employed over 60,000 people in the country, the ambassador said.
Chinese companies also played a key role in addressing the COVID-19 crisis in the United Kingdom during the pandemic, Between September 2020 and June 2021, more than three-quarters of UK government contracts for rapid antigen tests involved Chinese suppliers or manufacturers, according to UK nonprofit The Citizens.
Another example is the exchanges of students and researchers, he said. Over 220,000 Chinese students are currently studying in the UK and this is predicted by research institutions to grow a further 70 percent by 2030.
"Facts fully prove that cooperation between China and the UK have not only brought benefits to the peoples of our two countries but also played a positive role in promoting world peace, stability and prosperity," he said.
Wu Hongbo, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on European Affairs, Jiang Jiang, Vice President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Dan Chugg, Director for North East Asia and China at the Foreign, Commonwealth &Development Office, Sir Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, also participated in the seminar.