Governor Shen Yiqin,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a real delight to join you in welcoming the “Guizhou Going Global” event to the UK.
This is the first ever overseas promotion jointly hosted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy and a provincial government from China.
On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, I would like to begin by extending my warmest welcome to Governor Shen Yiqin and her delegation for coming all the way from China, as well as the distinguished guests representing various sectors in Britain.
I think the timing of this event is excellent.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up policy.
This is a good time to showcase Guizhou’s achievements and expand its overseas cooperation.
This is also a good opportunity to tell the success story of China’s reform and opening up.
Guizhou in the Chinese language means “precious province”. The character “Gui” is composed of elements that are interpreted as “a treasure of China”. Guizhou has certainly lived up to its name.
Two thousand years ago, the “Southern Silk Road” and the “Ancient Tea-Horse Trail” on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau were important routes connecting China with the rest of the world. Via these routes, Chinese silk and tea found their way into South Asian subcontinent.
Today, this “precious province” is leveraging its strategic location on the Belt and Road routes.
It has become a pioneer in China’s new round of reform and opening up.
It is where different ethnic groups live in harmony.
It gives priority to the preservation of the eco-system.
And its development is driven by innovation.
Let me give you four reasons why Guizhou is “precious”:
First, Guizhou is an epitome of China’s reform and opening up.
An important goal of deeper reform and further open-up in China is promoting coordinated development between different regions. Guizhou’s achievements testify to the attainment of this goal.
As China opens up on all fronts and deepens the Belt and Road development, Guizhou is showing unique strengths and huge potential. In recent years, Guizhou has significantly improved its comprehensive strengths. It had been one of the top two fastest growing provinces in China for five years in a row. And in 2017 it led the country in GDP growth rate with an increase of 10.2% .
Second, Guizhou is a model for targeted poverty alleviation.
Guizhou is the main battlefield in China’s fight against poverty. To win this battle, Guizhou has launched a massive strategic plan to reduce poverty. This includes new mechanisms and measures to achieve targeted poverty alleviation.
The result is encouraging. Guizhou has become one of the most successful provinces in poverty reduction. From 2012 to 2017, nearly eight million people, about the size of Greater London’s population, have been lifted out of poverty.
Third, Guizhou is an exemplar of ethnic unity.
This province is home to 18 ethnic groups who have lived here for generations. Ethnic minorities account for 36% of the total population. And 55% of the localities enjoy ethnic autonomy.
The various ethnic groups in Guizhou respect the traditions of each other while maintaining their own. They live in harmony and work together for integrated development.
Fourth, Guizhou is a pioneer of innovation-driven development.
To promote innovation-driven development, Guizhou has focused on emerging industries such as big data and mountain tourism. It has gathered enormous potential for future development by setting up pilot zones for big data, ecological preservation and inland open economy.
In recent years, there has been a sound momentum in the exchanges and cooperation between Guizhou and the UK. This “precious province” is making greater contribution to the China-UK “Golden Era”.
Companies and research institutions from Guizhou and the UK have engaged in extensive cooperation and harvested fruitful results in areas ranging from big data and innovation technology to new energy and tourism.
Many “brand names” of Guizhou are gaining increasing recognition and interest here in the UK. These include nature tourism, Maotai the famous liquor and traditional crafts by seamstresses. These also include the Guizhou Eco Forum Global, big data industry and the world’s largest radio telescope.
I am happy to have contributed personally to the exchanges between Guizhou and the UK by introducing Guizhou’s charming ethnic culture to Britain at the “Weaving a Dream” Fashion Show I hosted at the Chinese Embassy last September.
Looking forward, I am full of confidence and expectations for Guizhou to make even greater achievements and play a more “precious” role in China-UK relations.
Here I would like to share with you three suggestions on advancing the cooperation between Guizhou and the UK.
First, the two sides should seize the “precious opportunity” arising from their matching development strategies.
As the “Golden Era” shifts to a higher gear, China and the UK face huge opportunities for cooperation at the sub-national level.
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China decided to further open up the western region in order to map a new layout for China’s great western development.
The UK government is implementing regional development strategies, such as the “Midlands Engine for Growth” and the “Northern Powerhouse”, while at the same time building a “global Britain”.
There is an obvious match between these development strategies and policies which, if well leveraged, could create new impetus for cooperation across the board.
Second, the two sides should tap the “precious potential” of their comparative strengths to foster growth points in their cooperation.
The UK has unique strengths in scientific and technological innovation, financial services, new energy and tourism.
Guizhou is accelerating the implementation of strategic plans on big data, ecological preservation and tourism while actively building the three pilot zones.
The two sides could tap the great potential of their comparative strengths to achieve common development in all these areas.
Third, the two sides should make full use of the “precious opening-up platform” of Guizhou to deepen cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.
The UK, with its rich experience in financial and legal services, consultancy and management, is a natural partner of China for Belt and Road development.
Guizhou is a hub of data, transportation and logistics in the western part of China. It is building a centre of data collection, analysis and utilization that will serve countries along the Belt and Road.
The two sides can engage in cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative through such platforms as the Big Data Expo, the Eco Forum Global and the Cross-Border Investment and Trade Fair of the Guizhou Inland Opening-up Pilot Economic Zone. This could lead to great outcomes in Belt and Road cooperation.
Earlier this month, President Xi gave a keynote speech to the Annual Conference 2018 of the Boao Forum for Asia. He announced new measures to further open up China’s market and outlined the prospects of renewed reform and opening up in China. This is a clear-cut affirmation of China’s continued commitment to win-win cooperation with the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Just as the sunshine is reflected in a drop of water, a country can be epitomized by the work of a province.
Guizhou is such a province. It is committed to opening up and cooperation. It is a fine example of China that is making constant progress in the new era.
I sincerely hope that more and more British friends will take an interest in Guizhou, and better still, visit Guizhou to see the place with your own eyes. You will fall in love with this “precious province”. And you are sure to gain a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of China in the new era.
I also hope and believe that Guizhou will contribute its part to the China-UK “Golden Era” and to the ever-lasting friendship between the people of our two countries.
In conclusion, I wish the “Guizhou Going Global” event great success, and I wish Governor Shen a fruitful visit to the UK!