To the Future Together

Marking 50 years of full diplomatic relations between China and the UK

Half a century ago today, the Chinese and British governments agreed to exchange ambassadors, formally cementing a relationship that has become one of the most important for trade, investment, education and culture for both countries.

To mark the anniversary, CGTN Europe is running special series To the Future Together showcasing some of the highest-profile voices who connect China and the UK.

Watch the launch ceremony.

Launching the series, CMG president Shen Haixiong joined China's ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang, former British ministers Vince Cable and Michael Heseltine, Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group Club and son of 'Icebreaker' Jack Perry and Michael Wood, president of the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding.

As an international mainstream media organization with strong influence and China’s state broadcaster, CMG will continue to be a bridge of communication, to contribute to the golden era of lasting, open and win-win China-UK relations and the building of a community of shared future for mankind.
China Media Group president Shen Haixiong

“History tells us that cooperation serves the fundamental interests of both China and the UK. Given their different national conditions, our bilateral relationship should follow the principle of mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
Ambassador Zheng Zeguang

In his address, Zheng called for a new generation to follow in the footsteps of the original 'Icebreakers' who, led by Jack Perry, defied Cold War thinking to build commercial connections with China.

Other speakers explained the importance of the relationship. Vince Cable, the UK business secretary during the so-called Golden Era of relations, pointed out that the British steel industry had been rescued thanks to Chinese investment and that the future of carmaking in the UK would be in partnership with Chinese battery makers.

And Michael Heseltine, a former deputy prime minister, urged politicians to make greater efforts to address the challenges that arise as the two powers journey together.

The launch also heard from Stephen Perry. His father, Jack led the first major delegation of British people to engage with modern China. As a result of their successful efforts to break the deadlock of the Cold War, they became known as the Icebreakers and are remembered in both nations for their vision and forward thinking. Perry recalled how he himself, after taking on his father's mantle, had witnessed the development of China from the carnage of the post-civil war period to its reemergence onto the international stage.

Another businessman who has played a leading role in enhancing the multi-billion dollar commercial relationship is Fang Wenjian, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK. In his message of support for the project he delivered a message of optimism for the coming years.

Understanding is key to international comprehension, co-operation and peace, according to Michael Wood, president of the Society for Anglo Chinese Understanding. Wood, who is also celebrated for his role in awareness of Chinese culture through his documentary making, said educating people can build empathy and encourage vital exchanges.

Messages of support for the series also came from China's consul generals in the UK.

Zheng Xiyuan, Manchester

Ma Qiang, Edinburgh

Zhang Meifang, Belfast

And British local leaders

Errol Thompson, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

William McCaughey, mayor of Mid and East Antrim

The launch ceremony was closed with a performance by Shaun Gibson, a British musician who has adopted China as a second home and fuses the cultures of both nations in his songwriting.

Following the launch, the series will focus on the Bridge Builders - inspirational individuals who have worked across different fields - from top sportspeople and musicians to business leaders and politicians.

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