Xi stresses culture and cooperation

Updated: 2015-10-23 07:51

By Wu jiao in London and Li Xiaokun in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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President says countries can work together despite their differences

President Xi Jinping cited William Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Downton Abbey in a key speech in the City of London, drawing applause and laughter from his audience.

Addressing hundreds of prominent guests in the 15th century Guildhall on Wednesday evening, the president used his rich understanding of British culture by referring to the famous names and the popular TV drama series.

The banquet was hosted by the Lord Mayor of London, Alan Yarrow, and Prince Andrew was among those attending.

The president said he had been deeply impressed and inspired by Shakespeare. "I often pondered the question of to be or not to be. Eventually, I made up my mind that I should dedicate myself to serving my country and my people," he said.

Xi, who is on a four-day state visit to the United Kingdom, used his speech to illustrate how countries with different cultural backgrounds and social systems can cooperate together.

He focused on China's domestic situation, set against a backdrop where disputes over human rights and other political friction had often derailed cooperation.

Recognizing that "some are bullish on China, others bearish", Xi said it is not easy to understand and appreciate a country with more than 5,000 years of civilization, 56 ethnic groups and more than 1.3 billion people.

He stressed that the most appropriate judgment should be based on facts, rather than "glimpses through the fog".

"I hope the UK will continue to be a trendsetter and an example of openness and inclusiveness in carrying out cooperation with China," he said.

"We look to the UK to assume a leading position in the cooperation between China and Western countries, and to fulfill its aspiration to be China's strongest advocate in the West with concrete actions."

Xi also called for increased strategic communication and political mutual trust to ensure that ideological differences or specific disagreements do not hinder long-term and steady growth of relations.

The City of London, the UK capital's financial district, manages $4 trillion of assets and contributes 3 percent of GDP. It is also home to branches of China's five biggest banks, epitomizing the deepening cooperation between the two countries.

Yarrow, who visited China last month, described its development and growing bilateral ties, telling guests: "Tonight's banquet is particularly special. Radiant reds and glittering golds illuminate a precious partnership between the United Kingdom and China."

Stressing the importance of building a global partnership with China, he concluded by saying, "Mr President, there are many golden threads, which connect our communities and commerce.

"And with your economic and diplomatic vision for collaboration, the Western and Eastern partners of the Silk Road can continue to weave a precious tapestry of talent."

Cui Hongjian, head of the European Division at the China Institute of International Studies, said the president's speech had a rich cultural flavor.

"Xi's frequent citations of British celebrities and literary works show that he has a high respect and deep appreciation of the UK's culture," he said.

"That also shows that China's cooperation with Britain is not just about big deals. The relationship is a comprehensive and strategic one. To some extent, we can view cultural exchanges between China and the UK as communication of Eastern and Western cultures."

Huo Jianguo, former president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce, said Xi devoted a large part of his speech to China's domestic situation so that British people could "learn about the real China and its problems".

The president's expectations for relations between the two countries will not only affect the British government, but might also help chart the course for China's relations with Europe, he added.

Wednesday's banquet followed one hosted by Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday and capped the second day of Xi's visit, during which a series of business deals were signed with Britain, including a landmark agreement on the UK's first nuclear power plant since the 1980s.

The UK is China's second largest trading partner and investment destination in the European Union, and the biggest offshore RMB trading center after Hong Kong.

Contact the writers through wujiao@chinadaily.com.cn

 Xi stresses culture and cooperation

President Xi Jinping attends a Confucius Institute event with Britain's Prince Andrew (left) at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London on Wednesday. Xi and first lady Peng Liyuan are on a four-day state visit to Britain. Peter Nicholls / Reuters

 Xi stresses culture and cooperation

First lady Peng Liyuan talks to students at Fortismere School in north London on Wednesday. Xie Huanchi / Xinhua

(China Daily USA 10/23/2015 page1)