Fu Ying, the Chinese ambassador to Britain, attended the Young Icebreakers Launch sponsored by the 48 Group Club at the evening of May Day, and addressed about 200 attendants present at the celebration at the invitation of the Club Chairman, Stephen Perry.
In her speech, Fu Ying congratulated again on the 55th anniversary of the 48 Group Club, which was celebrated in Beijing last month. The Club's history can be traced back to the early 1950s, in spite of the trading boycott and blockade placed by Western countries on China, a group of British business leaders, including Jack Perry, founder of the Club, and 15 other representatives from British companies, embarked on an 'Icebreaking Mission' to China. Known as 'Icebreakers' they were the first group of Westerners to do business with the newly-born People's Republic of China.
55 years ago, it took Jack Perry, the Club Founder, 7 days to get to Hong Kong, and then another 4 days to arrive in Beijing via Hong Kong; while today the present Club Chairman, Stephen Perry takes only 9-plus hours to fly from London to Beijing. The geographical distance has been dramatically shortened, but the distance, in perception and credibility, still exists, and the information gap between China and the West has yet to be bridged.
Over half a century elapsed, and China as well as the world at large has witnessed a fundamental change. If a thick layer of ice used to block China and the West from knowing each other, a new layer of ice emerges today to block the Westerners from understanding China, resulting in mutual trust crisis on both sides.
Fu Ying cited a recent survey conducted by Point Zero by saying that 80 percent of the Chinese people admit having the repulsive feelings toward the Westerners, likewise, the Europeans who deem China the No.1 threat have doubled in number since last year. In the U.S, 31 percent of the interviewees think China poses a threat more serious than Iraq and DPRK. The confrontation between the Chinese and people in the West has unprecedentedly escalated.
Recently some Westerners slammed China on issues like Tibet and the Olympics, which terribly hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. The Olympic Games is cherished so much as a gala by the Chinese, especially the Chinese youth, that in 2001, when China won the bidding to be the host, they stormed into the Tian An Men Square to celebrate throughout the night, most of them young people. When they are concentrating on the preparations for hosting the Games, and with sincerity waiting for the big day to welcome friends from all over the world and to showcase the new look of China, some people with ulterior motives or political ambitions are anxious to take the chance to disrupt and sabotage the Olympic Games, using whatever means at their disposal to denigrate China from the distorted reports to harassing the torch relay.
This despicable practice aroused repulsion and indignation among the Chinese people. However, many Westerners believe that the Chinese have been brainwashed by the government in light of their assumption that there is no speech freedom in China. Therefore, the patriotism of the Chinese people is accused of the orgies of nationalism.
Fu Ying added that it is naive and arrogant to think that the whole population of 1.3 billion has been brainwashed. She believed that there exists information deficit on the Western side, which is directly responsible for the gap of information and acknowledgement about China and the Chinese people. The knowledge of many Western media and public about China is lagged behind for at least two decades.
Fu stressed that no books about the present China available in most of the bookstores in Britain, and if any, the book must be written with strong bias or even hatred toward China, while in China, we can find enough books on offer to help us better understand Britain.
On China's human rights issue, Fu said that some Western media tend to simplify the human rights status of a population of 1.3 billion into a few cases. China's human rights have bearing on the essential interest of the mass of the Chinese people. China's media have all along exposed the ugly cases to the general public, such as environmental pollution, corruption and forced labour. China's government is not trying to cover the ugly sides but trying actively to work out solutions to these problems so as to best safeguard the interest of the public. The Western media should comply with journalism ethics to be fair and objective and abide by the Chinese laws in their reporting on China. China is willing to open its door to the outside media, grant them permission to make a complete and free coverage of the Olympics, similarly, the Western media should prove credible and trustworthy among the Chinese public.
Fu also elaborated on the achievements China has scored following its 30 years of reform and opening up to the outside world in her speech, and by pointing out 'ice' formed in between the mutual communication and trust, she then went on to address the importance of the young generation as the icebreakers.
The 48 Group Club was established in early 1950s with the aim to promote culture exchanges and trade between China and Britain. During the past 55 years, the Club has used its unique links and understanding of China to continue its visionary work and has grown from strength to strength. At present, it has over 300 members, including business and political leaders, and runs an extensive program of networking events, successfully paving the way for the 'Icebreaking Mission' and establishing trade relations between China and Great Britain.
People’s Daily (Beijing)