On behalf of everyone assembled—thank you for speaking to us here today. Offering an address to both Houses in the Royal Gallery is a rare tribute we reserve only for those visitors we hold in the highest regard. I trust you will take the welcome you have received here as a mark of our respect.
Let me begin by quoting a prominent member of the House of Lords, who sadly passed away earlier this month. Lord Howe of Aberavon was a great friend of China, and made a historic contribution to relations between our two countries. With specific regard to Hong Kong, he said that China’s principle of “One country, two systems” was indicative of its leadership employing a “wisdom that would lead it far into the future not just in economic terms but in political and institutional ones as well.” It seems that that wisdom endures to this day.
President Xi, yours is the second visit to the UK Parliament by a Chinese head of state in less than a decade, and yet much has changed in such a short period of time. China’s economic growth has been remarkable, and your country has truly opened up to the world. More importantly in the context of your presence here in the Royal Gallery, the relationship between China and the UK has flourished.
Last year, I had the pleasure of welcoming Premier Li Keqiang to Parliament. We had a very interesting discussion on a wide range of matters, including education, in particular the value of UK students studying in China and Chinese students coming to the UK. Student exchanges are, in many ways, integral to ensuring that our relationship continues to flourish. The links we have forged in recent years have been tempered by a growing understanding of one another’s culture and history. It is vital therefore that following generations continue to build upon this understanding.
As we learn more about one another, so we can cooperate more closely in fields in which we have a shared interest—education and research, culture and sport, trade and commerce. It is in particular through joint programmes in the cultural, academic, science and research fields that we will achieve closer relationships and increasingly fruitful outcomes.
President Xi, your visit to the UK is a measure of how far that cooperation now extends. It is an honour to welcome you here today. I am sure your visit to the UK will be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for all involved, and I hope you find the time for fish and chips in a pub. Thank you for addressing us today.
Image: House of Lords 2015 / Photography by Roger Harris