Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and First Secretary of State George Osborne attend the inauguration of China-UK Future Leaders Programme at Downing Street
China’s Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and UK’s First Secretary of State George Osborne attending the inauguration of the China-UK Future Leaders Programme at Downing Street
On September 18th (local time), Mdm. Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of State Council of China, and Mr. George Osborne, First Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer of the UK, attended the official inauguration ceremony of the China-UK Future Leaders Programme (FLP) at the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at No. 11, Downing Street, London, the UK.
China’s Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and UK’s First Secretary of State George Osborne jointly witnessing the signing of the agreement of the China-UK Future Leaders Programme
Both Chinese and British governments have attached great significance to this programme. With China’s growing influence on the world order, many countries around the world, including the UK, have already considered relations with China as a key part of their foreign strategy. Thus, understanding China and knowing how to cooperate with it have constituted an indispensable requirement for future leaders in the international community. However, a group of insightful UK opinion leaders argue that there still lacks a high-level and institutionalized platform in the UK which can help young people, especially the elite ones, get to understand China, work together with China, even take root in China, and present China to the international community. As pointed out by Mdm. Xu Lin, Director General of Hanban (Office of Chinese Language Council International), this programme aims to produce Sinophile future British leaders with pragmatism and strategic vision, promote understanding and friendship between Chinese and British young people, and sustain the sound development of China-UK relations, so as to achieve a win-win situation through cooperation. With courses carefully developed by Chinese and British experts through close collaboration, the designing of curriculum and activities in this programme takes into consideration the quality of academic studies and the discussion of practical issues.
According to Sir Michael Rake, Chairman of BT Group, the UK currently lacks a platform to help young people deepen their understanding and knowledge of China, which does not serve well for the UK’s long-term strategic interests in China, and across the globe. In this context, a group of government and business leaders in the UK initiated the China-UK Future Leaders Programme and finished the one-year preparation with the strong support from the Chinese government.
Ron Dennis, co-founder of this programme, Chairman of the British East Asian Council and CEO/Chairman of McLaren Group, said, “As an EMBA-type high-level scholarship training programme, the China-UK Future Leaders Programme targets the future leaders of various sectors in the UK, guides them through the right methodologies for studying and understanding China, and builds a high-level platform for exchange and cooperation with China. At the same time, Chinese people are also willing to know more about the thoughts of future Western leaders and deepen their understanding of the Western world, so as to promote the quality of collaboration in all fields.” Every year, this programme recruits young elites from government departments, large multinationals, academia and cultural sectors through competitive selection and renowned figures’ recommendation. Candidates who are finally selected will go to China for a one-month study, which includes in-depth research on the Chinese society and culture and its political and business situations, as well as dialogues with senior Chinese government officials, business leaders and top scholars.
Vice-Premier Liu Yandong pointed out that, as a highlight in the development of the China-UK people-to-people exchange mechanism, the China-UK Future Leaders Programme should be carefully arranged and planned in order to truly achieve win-win through cooperation. Mr. George Osborne, First Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer of the UK, also holds high expectation on this programme. He said that this programme would offer a rare opportunity for young leaders in the UK to better understand China and conduct in-depth exchange with Chinese elites from various fields. He asserted that it would actively promote the mutual understanding, trust and respect between the two peoples, thus leading to win-win relations with shared prosperity.
The China-UK Future Leaders Programme is jointly sponsored by the British East Asian Council and China’s Hanban. As a British non-profit institution established by a group of government and business leaders who are concerned about China-UK relations, the British East Asian Council aims at promoting high-level people-to-people exchange and public diplomacy between the two countries. China’s Hanban is committed to providing resources and services worldwide for teaching Chinese language and culture. The China-UK Future Leaders Programme is Hanban’s first attempt to establish a high-level people-to-people exchange programme targeting elite young people in cooperation with international organizations.
On November 15th, 2012, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping called for a better understanding between China and the rest of the world. At the meeting with Chinese and foreign journalists, he asserted, “China needs to learn more about the world, and the world needs a better understanding of China.” Thus, echoing such appeal, the China-UK High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism was jointly launched by Mdm. Liu Yandong, the then State Councilor, and Mr. Jeremy Hunt, the then British Culture Secretary, as the third pillar (besides the Economic and Financial Dialogue and the China-UK Strategic Dialogue) for the Chinese and British governments. This mechanism establishes a platform of higher level to strengthen people-to-people exchange in education, cultural, media and youth between China and the UK.
On June 18th, 2014, during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “We’re both committed to ensuring that our growing economic and political ties also contribute to much stronger links between our peoples.” In this context, the China-UK Future Leaders Programme was established as such a high-level platform with strong support from governments of both countries, aiming to boost in-depth exchange and improve mutual understanding. Up to the present, this programme has received strong support from senior Chinese and British government officials and will serve as an important force to push the bilateral relations into a “golden age of development”.
By Zhang Chunyan