Press release

Alok Sharma celebrates 45 years of UK-China ambassadorial relations

Minister Alok Sharma hosted an event on 29 March to mark the 45th anniversary year of ambassadorial relations between the UK and China.

Minister Sharma & the Chinese Ambassador Mr Liu Xiaoming
Minister Sharma & the Chinese Ambassador Mr Liu Xiaoming

Over 300 guests attended the event at Lancaster House, including the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Mr Liu Xiaoming, and a wealth of British and Chinese business representatives, government officials, parliamentarians and China Chevening Scholars.

The guests at Lancaster House were treated to a series of performances and displays from Weli Creative’s ‘Magical Lantern’ exhibition, a string ensemble from the Guildhall School of Music, and a collection of Chinese and British manuscripts from the British Library. Also on display was ClothCat Animations’ new children’s series Luo Bai Bei, which is due to be screened in China and the UK later this year. Other exhibitors included the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum and B&H Fashion.

Mr Sharma and the Chinese Ambassador each delivered a speech at the event, which followed the official anniversary on 13 March, before the London Symphony Orchestra performed a recital for the attendees.

UK Minister for Asia, Mr Alok Sharma MP, said:

Throughout the last 45 years, the UK-China relationship has been steadily strengthening. Today we see cooperation at an all-time high and a global partnership that is delivering real benefits for both nations.

Personal ties and mutual understanding are at the heart of any successful relationship. That is why promoting business, cultural and educational links is so important to us. Forty-five years ago, there were 200 Chinese students in the UK and today we welcome over 150,000 Chinese students at universities, colleges and schools across the UK. Through our Generation UK programme, we are working to increase the number of British students studying in China from 5000 currently to 20,000 by 2020.

As we look ahead to the future for the UK and China, it is important to reflect on what our two countries have achieved over the last 45 years. Trade between our two countries has increased 200-fold. We want to do even more. We are working together to address some of the significant challenges facing the world today, such as conflict in the Middle East and international terrorism. Our Infrastructure Alliance will allow us to work together to build the capacity of third countries, and we are tackling global health issues such as anti-microbial resistance.

Since our countries established full Ambassadorial relations, the pace and scope of what we have achieved, individually and together, is extraordinary. We want to continue to build the links between our two countries into the future. I strongly believe that we have a great deal to look forward to.

The Minister personally thanked the sponsors for the event: The Bank of China; Ernst & Young; HSBC; and Huawei.

The UK has more dialogues with China than any other European country. Chinese visitors to Britain have doubled in five years, with around 150,000 Chinese students now studying across the UK. Last year, the UK Government funded 98 China Chevening Scholars and 15 China Chevening Fellows from 18 different provinces and municipalities to attend postgraduate study at UK universities.

Mr Sharma has visited Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Fuzhou and Xiamen, as well as Hong Kong, since his appointment as Minister for Asia last year. Prime Minister Theresa May attended the G20 Summit last September in Hangzhou and will visit China again later this year.

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Published 30 March 2017