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This is different from our usual offering, as Parliament is still in recess. Instead, we decided to pull together a short bonus Brief looking at some of our top speeches from the so-called ‘Golden Era’. This was a period of close economic, cultural and political ties and ambitions between China under Xi Jinping and the UK under David Cameron’s Conservative Government.
The following speeches serve as a glimpse into the minds of those behind the Golden Era. This is not a list of every major speech - rather the ones we enjoyed reading. Links to the full speeches will be provided, and we will pick out our key quotes thematically.
Normal service will resume next Sunday following Parliament’s return.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivers a speech to the Shanghai Stock Exchange in China.
22 September 2015
Insightful on many levels, this speech also contains a nugget of information we were previously unaware of; George Osborne visited Shanghai as a student at some point in the 1990s. Link to speech.
On China’s poverty alleviation
500 million Chinese citizens have been lifted out of the grinding poverty their families have lived in since time immemorial – the biggest single contribution to making poverty history in my lifetime.
On the relationship between Britain and China
The world still needs China’s help. We need China to power our economy forward That’s why I’ve come to China again and again in this job. That’s why I’ve brought with me here this week leading British businesses, the heads of great British cultural institutions, the civic leaders of Britain’s great northern cities and the largest ministerial delegation that I have ever brought to China.
I’ve travelled not just to Beijing for our formal economic and financial dialogue with the Chinese government, not just here to the financial centre of Shanghai, but on to Chengdu and even to Urumqi – far in the West. And I’m told I’m the first British government minister ever to do so.
On Xinjiang and the BRI
For China rebalancing means delivering President Xi’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative that looks to foster growth across the ancient Silk Road trading route between Europe and the East. That’s why tomorrow, as I say, I will become the first British government minister ever to visit Xinjang province in the far West of China.
Developing this infrastructure will create huge opportunities for European and Asian businesses, as will the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which will boost regional investment.
On British and Chinese culture
Britain and China are 2 countries whose cultures have done more to shape the world than almost anyone else. Our philosophers, our scientists, our writers have influenced people across the globe, far beyond our own shores. When Chinese people are asked where in the world they’d most like to visit – Britain features right at the top of their list.
And in Britain, there is a hunger to learn more and understand more about this great civilisation. I see it at home in Downing Street every night as my twelve year old daughter does her Mandarin homework.
We have different political systems. We’re a multi-party democracy. So, of course we will disagree on issues.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivers a speech in Chengdu, China
25 September 2015
A couple of days after his speech at the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Osborne made the case for investment in the UK’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ in Chengdu. Link to full speech
On the comparisons between Chengdu and the Northern Powerhouse
What’s remarkable is the way in the last 10 years or so cities like Chengdu have become a real powerhouse of the Chinese economy. And the way you have established links with other great cities like Chongqing, 200 miles away - an example of how big cities can come together in economic clusters, and be greater than the individual parts.
The sum can be greater than the parts. That is precisely what we’re trying to achieve in the United Kingdom, with our great industrial cities of the north of England.
Bringing the cities together, creating modern high speed transport links between those cities, making sure that they have strong civic leadership, bringing investment to them, and as a result creating a North of England that is greater than the individual parts.
The Northern Powerhouse that we are seeking to create.
On relations between the two countries
I’ve made an argument about how Britain can be China’s best partner in the West, seeking more investment from China into Britain, and making sure that British companies contribute to China’s growth and development and bring their investment too.
We are publishing today for the first time an interesting fact based on new Treasury analysis that shows that 265,000 jobs in Britain only exist because of our links with China. And I want to create hundreds of thousands of more jobs in Britain to come about as a result of those links with China.
So anyone who says ‘what is the practical benefit of this relationship’, I say go and talk to the people and the families who’ve got incomes and livelihoods and jobs because of the relationship between our two countries.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond’s speech on the UK in Asia Pacific
30 January 2015
Although largely focussed on Singapore, given it took place at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies in the country, this speech contains comments that show how far the Westminster perspective of a Global Britain has shifted. Link to speech.
On Britain’s history in Asia
Indeed, few western countries can claim to know Asia as well as Britain. We first attempted to find a trade route to China in the 16th century. It took us four decades to find and another three to establish a trading post, but these early lessons in persistence have not been forgotten. We have been part of the Singapore story for two centuries. Along with Australia and New Zealand, two of the stops on my current trip, our history is so closely interwoven that we have ties which the oceans cannot loosen.
On the relationship with China
We’ve expanded our diplomatic network in China, to ensure we are placed to respond to China’s historic re-emergence as a global power, and to build what Premier Li has described as an “indispensable partnership” between our two countries - opening a new Consulate in Wuhan last month and ramping up the number of our diplomats in China, so that they can get out of the capital to build new links in fast-growing cities like Harbin and Qingdao.
On diplomacy in the region
Let me be clear: Britain does not take a position on the underlying sovereignty disputes in the South and East China Seas. But we most certainly do take a view on how those claims should be pursued and ultimately resolved. Our position is clear: we support a rules-based, not a power-based, order in Asia. It is critically important for regional stability, and for the integrity of the rules-based international system, that disputes in the region are resolved, not through force or coercion, but through dialogue and in accordance with international law.
The East is Red. A blog post from Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council
23 October 2015
While technically not a speech, we have included this as it provides a fascinating look into the mind of Manchester’s leadership during President Xi’s state visit. Leese had accompanied Osborne to China in the month prior, and was present during his speech in Chengdu. Full text here.
On the city’s relationship with China
Manchester has a long relationship with China going back over 150 years, and visitors to the Great Hall in the Town Hall will see China on one of the ceiling panels representing our then trading relationships. More recently we have had a friendship agreement with Wuhan for the past twenty nine years, a relationship that is now more active than ever.
At the heart of the current relationship is of course economic growth and jobs. We already have Chinese companies like BCEG investing in the city and creating local jobs. Yesterday I was talking with the Executive Vice-President of the Bank of China, who have long had a branch in the city, and are exploring the possibility of many Chinese SMEs establishing themselves in the city again creating local jobs. But it's not one way traffic, and the delegation that I accompanied to China last month included lots of UK businesses with the potential to sell goods and services to China. I have blogged before about the need for Manchester to play an active role in the global economy, and we certainly cannot ignore a player of China's significance.
On China’s human rights record
I was interviewed about the visit on Radio Manchester this morning and inevitably the question of human rights came up. It's worth noting that is less than twenty years since this country signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, so even here it is work in progress. I first visited China twenty nine years ago and have seen almost unbelievable changes over that time including improvements in labour rights, the legal system, and human rights education. President Xi himself has noted that China is in a process " to realise social fairness and justice and continuously promote the development of the human rights cause ". As a friend of China we need to recognise that they are on a journey and to support them on the way. As with all friendships there might be disagreements from time to time but if you want to stay friends you don't post them on Facebook.
Joint press conference: David Cameron and President Xi Jinping
21 October 2015
The World Cup Final of Golden Era speeches, which took place during President Xi’s state visit to the UK. Link to speech.
Prime Minister David Cameron
On the need for a strong relationship between both countries
A strong relationship is in both our countries’ interest, not just because it brings investment and jobs and higher living standards for our peoples, vital though those things are. The more we trade together, the more we have a stake in each other’s success, and the more we understand each other, the more that we can work together to confront the problems that face our world today. The stronger the relationship between our countries, the more we’ll be able to have a serious dialogue. We may not always agree but we can discuss issues openly and constructively.
On Chinese investment in the UK
So I want to see more trade flowing between our countries, like Geely, owner of the London Taxi Company, announcing a £50 million investment in the United Kingdom today. We’ve got Chinese companies investing in Heathrow, in Thames Water. We’ve got UK architects designing Chinese cities. And I’m pleased to announce today that we’re signing an historic deal to build the Hinkley nuclear power station, providing reliable, affordable energy to nearly 6 million homes and creating more than 25,000 jobs, all the while working together to build a low carbon future.
On new beginnings
So this visit marks the start of a new era. Some have called it a golden era in relations between Britain and China, an era of stronger economic ties, deeper trade links, closer relations between our peoples and meaningful dialogue on the issues that matter to us both. And all of this is routed in a relationship between our 2 old countries, a relationship fit for the 21st century, benefitting not just our nations and our peoples, but also the wider world.
President Xi Jinping
On the relationship between both countries
China and the UK are both major countries with significant influence. This year is the beginning of the second decade of China–UK comprehensive strategic partnership and this relationship has come to a new starting point. I’m making this state visit to the UK to build on past achievements, elevate our political mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation in all fields, and take China–UK ties to a new level.
On the future
There is a saying in English, ‘One today is worth two tomorrows’. And the Chinese people often say, ‘Seize the day, seize the hour’. Let’s seize the opportunity and forge ahead together to promote further progress in China–UK relations and bring more benefits to people of our countries and the rest of the world. Thank you.
That’s it for this week. If you enjoyed this Briefing, please do subscribe. Normal service resumes next week.