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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Reception of the Royal Shakespeare Company: Seize New Opportunities to Achieve New Success
Hackney Empire Theatre, London, 7 March 2018


Mr. Gregory Doran,

Director Li Liuyi,

Mr. Pu Cunxin,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good evening!

It is a real pleasure to join you again at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

Last year, we celebrated the success of the RSC Chinese Cultural Exchange Programme. The memory of that happy occasion is still fresh in my mind.

Tonight I come to both celebrate and experience. I have high expectations of tonight's production of Shakespeare's best known play Hamlet.

Hamlet is the very first Shakespeare play I have ever watched. It was through Hamlet that I got to know Shakespeare; and from Shakespeare, I started to explore Britain.

My British friends often told me, they would rather lose the British Isles than lose Shakespeare. This speaks volume about the position Shakespeare occupies in the heart of his countrymen.

In China, Shakespeare is also a household name. If you may recall, I used four "No.1's" last year to illustrate the popularity of Shakespeare in China.

This popularity should be attributed in part to the ambitious "RSC Chinese Cultural Exchange Programme". This programme is helping to "export" Shakespeare's plays to China for stage performance and "import" the Chinese classics created by Shakespeare's contemporaries to the British stages.

With over half of its goals already achieved, this programme is expected to create three "No.1's" in the history of China-UK cultural exchanges.

The first "No. 1" refers to the time span of the programme.

The RSC Chinese Cultural Exchange Programme was launched in 2013, and is expected to be completed in 2023, in time to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare's first folio.

In China we have a saying: ten years are needed to forge the very best sword. This ten-year programme will surely have its place in the history of China-UK cultural exchanges.

The second "No.1" refers to the number of classics involved.

This programme plans to translate 36 Shakespeare's plays into Chinese and 10 Chinese classics into English. When these translated works reach the stage, they will provide the audience of both countries with the opportunity to appreciate the splendid cultural legacies of our respective countries.

The third "No.1" refers to the frequency of events.

The RSC is now working with five Chinese institutions on this ten-year exchange programme. They are:

  • The National Centre for the Performing Arts,
  • Li Liuyi Theatre Studio,
  • Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre,
  • Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre
  • and Wuzhen Theatre Festival.

In 2018, the RSC will host six Chinese delegations here in Britain and hold translation workshop in China.

Because of the three "No.1's", Chinese audience have come to appreciate Henry IV and King Lear more deeply, and the British audience have become familiar with The Peony Pavilion and The Orphan of Zhao Family.

These plays have brought laughter and tears to the theatre lovers of both countries and help them understand and appreciate each other's culture. It is because of the fascinating stories and embedded philosophical ideas that the names of our countries have become ever more familiar and the people of our two countries have felt ever closer to each other.

The history of human progress tells us that exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations have always been an impetus for human progress. They are also a bond between nations in their common pursuit of world peace.

Shakespeare once wrote,

"On the great clock of time, there is but one word - Now."

We have a similar quote from the Chinese classic Book of Changes,

"A wise man waits for a proper time to display his competence."

These wise words tell us that:

  • We must catch the moment to win the future.
  • We must seize the opportunities to achieve success.
  • And we must put earnest efforts into every small step in order to accomplish a big step forward.

According to Chinese lunar calendar, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. In both China and Britain, dog is a symbol of loyalty, diligence and prosperity.

At the beginning of this year, Prime Minister May paid a successful visit to China, during which the leaders of our two countries agreed to take the China-UK "Golden Era" forward. This has given a strong impetus and created historic opportunities for the cultural exchanges between our two countries.

I sincerely hope the cultural communities of our two countries will seize the new opportunities and achieve new success. And I look forward to continued contribution of the RSC to China-UK cultural exchanges in the "Golden Era".

In conclusion, I wish tonight's performance a great success!

And I wish all of you a happy and prosperous Year of the Dog!

Thank you.

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