The Rickshaw Report: China and the UK

1. What do Chinese people think of the UK?
On the whole, we think Brits are polite and well-mannered. However, this is just a generalization – of course, there can be exceptions!

2. The UK and China have had their ups and downs. They fought each other during the Opium Wars, and the British – alongside the French – were even responsible for the burning down of the old Summer Palace. How is the relationship now?
Look, people sometimes have disagreements with their colleagues, however, cooperation lies in everyone’s interests. Friendships can go up and down, but as long as their mutual interests will exist, so will the friendship.

3. One of the UK’s top politicians wants his homeland to become China’s best partner in the West. What are your thoughts?
Both countries are trying to make use of each other, but doesn’t mean that they are also trying to help each other. As for the negative episodes of the past, like the Opium Wars, both UK and China have moved past these – its all water under the bridge now.

4. After the UK announced its membership of the China-led AIIB, the USA accused the UK of ‘constant accommodation’ to China. What do you make of this?
The USA seriously accuses the UK of this? This reminds me of a story about former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Once a Western reporter asked Zhou why so many Chinese people appeared to walk around with their eyes turned to the ground, whereas Westerners always looked straight ahead with their chests sticking out. Zhou replied “that is because China is on the way up, we are climbing, so it takes a lot effort, while a lot of Westerners, they are on the way down, so it will be a lot easier for them to walk”. His words were powerful! So I think that the USA is now on its way down. It is declining.  But the country doesn’t want to admit it. The US seems to be telling other nations that they must only side with it, whilst also discouraging these nations from collaborating with others.

5. What can China learn from the UK?
In truth, I think the living and education standards of many Chinese people still require a lot of improvement. Similarly, we could benefit from learning some of the British etiquette!

6. Similarly, what can China teach the UK?
The British can be too conservative at times. I think the Chinese can challenge some of the UK’s old-fashioned views.

7. Who is your favourite British person?

Margaret Thatcher! She was a tough leader. She is also brilliant because she handed Hong Kong back to Mainland China. That was the right thing to do.

7. Many British see China as a major world player. As a result, more and more Brits are trying to master the Mandarin language. What are your thoughts?
Yeah, I have heard about this. It will make communication between both nations easier. I have a British friend who is learning not only the language but also Chinese art, and also Chinese Crosstalk ( editor – this is a comic performance art known as 相声 (xiàngsheng)) . He can even perform on stage, stating the names of 100 Chinese dishes –in  Mandarin – at a very fast speed.

9. The 19th Century was the age of Great Britain. The 20th Century belonged to the USA. Will the 21st Century be shaped by the rise of China?
I do not agree with that. China, despite of its fast-growing economy is a vast country with a lot of people, many of whom are still dealing with poor living conditions. China first needs to address these issues, before it can ever be a superpower.

10. Xi Jinping is on his first state visit to the UK. What are your hopes for the trip?
Hmm. I heard that the Queen is hosting Xi and his wife, so on the surface, everything appears polite. However, behind the scenes and in the closed meetings between Cameron and Xi, I hope things are running just as smoothly.