Ambassador Zheng Zeguang Delivers a Video Speech at the WRSA Forum to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Chinese Government-Sponsored Study in Britain
10 September 2022
Vice Chairman Ding Zhongli,
Ambassador Caroline Wilson,
Senior fellows, Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of today’s Forum both as Chinese Ambassador to the UK and as a former student in the UK. First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to express my warm congratulations to the Forum! I also want to express my thanks to the leaders and senior fellows of the Western Returned Scholars Association for their long-standing efforts in promoting the development of China-UK relations!
I was a government-sponsor student in the UK 36 years ago and I know from personal experience how important the overseas study programme and the China-UK educational cooperation are. I am delighted to learn that a number of Chinese and British guests, including Professor Colin Riordan, President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, my alma mater, will participate in this afternoon’s session on digital economy, finance and education. Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to all of you for your continuous care and support over the years for the Chinese government-sponsored overseas study programme in the UK and the cooperation between China and the UK in various areas!
A fine example of China’s opening up policy, the government-sponsored overseas study programme has played an important role in spearheading overseas studies, cultivating talents with a global vision, and enhancing friendship between people of China and other countries. In the 1970s, when New China started sending students to Western countries, the UK was chosen as a destination. The first group of students coming to Britain consisted of only 16 people. Today, totaling over 200,000, the Chinese students make up the largest group of international students in the UK. The number of British students studying in China has also reached nearly 20,000.
Over the past fifty years, both China and the UK have gained enormously from the exchange of students. The programme has produced generation after generation of talents who have contributed to the development of their respective countries, including a large number of leaders of their fields, such as Professor Huang Danian and Professor Zhong Nanshan. The benefit of student exchange also range from continuous improvement in the quality of teaching and scientific research of the universities involved to increasingly close bonds that facilitate China-UK cooperation.
As important representatives of the Oriental and Western civilizations respectively, China and the UK are also major economies in the world and permanent members of the UN Security Council. Although our two countries differ in history, culture, social system and development stage, there is a broad space for mutual learning and mutually-beneficial cooperation. China-UK cooperation serves the fundamental interests of both sides and is the shared aspiration of both peoples.
We hope the UK side will work with the Chinese side in the same direction to uphold the principles of mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness, and advance China-UK relations along a constructive track. The Chinese Embassy in the UK stands ready to work together with people of vision from all walks of life in both China and the UK to commit ourselves to dialogue and cooperation, overcome disturbances and obstacles, and keep consolidating the foundation of friendship between the Chinese and British people.
In conclusion, I wish the Forum complete success!