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David Cameron: Speech at Chongqing University in China

In a speech at Chongqing University in China today, Conservative Party Leader, David Cameron, said:

"I am delighted to be here this morning at this great University.

The last time a Conservative Leader of the Opposition from my country came to China was thirty years ago.

Her name was Margaret Thatcher.

In her memoirs, Lady Thatcher describes taking a walk in a park in Suzhou called the 'Garden of the Futility of Politics'.

Fortunately for my country, what happened next showed that politics is anything but futile.

Two years after her visit to China, the British people elected Margaret Thatcher Prime Minister, and she went on to transform Britain and become one of our greatest Prime Ministers.

Naturally I hope that when elections are next held in Britain in around two years' time, the British people will show the same wise judgment - and elect my Party again.

But although it is my aim to replace the current British government, it is important to remember that there is much we agree about.

We both want a strong relationship with China.

Strong on trade.

Strong on investment.

And strong on dialogue - meaning we should always speak openly to each other.


The China that Margaret Thatcher visited in 1977 was a very different country.

Since then, China has been transformed.

And your transformation, along with India's transformation, is changing the world.

A century ago, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, they said: "Go West, Young Man" to find opportunity and fortune.

And the same is true in China today.

Go west - to see Heifei, turning into China's silicon valley.

To see Chengdu, a hub for financial institutions.

And to see Chongqing - possibly the fastest growing municipality on earth.

That is why I wanted so much to come here, to see this extraordinary city.

Chongqing is to China in the twenty-first century what Chicago was to America in the nineteenth.

Chicago was the gateway to the opening up of the American mid-west, at the confluence of rivers, roads and railways.

Chongqing is playing a similar role in China's renaissance today - except, as befits a city in a country that is home to a fifth of humanity, on a much bigger scale.

Your city is growing at eight times the speed Chicago was in 1900.

Ten years ago its population was just over four million.

Today it is nearer 30 million.

Chongqing may not yet be as famous as Beijing or New York or Paris.

But as James Kynge has written in his book China Shakes the World, Chongqing is at the "epicentre of the energies remaking the world."


Today, I want to ask: what next for Britain and China? Because there is a paradox.

On the one hand, the whole world is moving into an age of incredible freedom and opportunity, what I've called a post-bureaucratic age, where people take more control over their own lives.

But on the other, this new era is also one of new unease and insecurity - with fresh dangers that darken the picture, from the threat to free trade or growing environmental degradation.

That's why Premier Wen has introduced the policy of the Three Transformations…which give equal status to environmental protection and economic growth. He's right.

Today, I want to set out my response to this new world of opportunity and insecurity…

And as I think about its implications for my country and yours, I come to the conclusion that there are three important truths we must recognise if we are to achieve the progress of which mankind is capable in the twenty-first century.

Three Recognitions that should shape our thinking in the years ahead.


First, we must recognise the connection between wealth and fairness.

If we want to continue to lift billions of people in our world out of poverty…if we want to continue to spread opportunity ever more widely…and if we want to continue to transform and modernise societies…then we must continue to expand the economic freedom on which economic growth and the creation of wealth depends.

Yes to free trade. No to protection. Being clear that globalisation is good for Britain, China and the world.

In the last two decades, more and more Chinese people have joined the market economy.

And the results are plain to see.

Take Shenzhen.

When I worked in Hong Kong briefly as a student in 1985, Shenzhen was barely more than a small town, surrounded by paddy fields and waterways.

Today, Shenzhen is a city with a population larger than London.

It makes most of the world's iPods - and one in ten of the world's mobile phones.

But these changes - the product of economic freedom - can bring social unease.

We see greater inequality - here and in the West.

We see greater anxiety as jobs are lost as well as created - here and in the West.

So we must tackle these problems.

We must create fairness alongside wealth, or we will lose the argument for a dynamic global economy, and lose the benefits it brings. Fairness must be increased both globally and domestically.

On a global level, we need fairness in trade. That means ensuring the poorest benefit too, in Africa and elsewhere, which is why we must secure a new trade deal.

Every generation has to win the argument for free trade and open markets.

And for our generation, the fight is as serious, difficult, and important as for those who fought it before.

As Mayor Bloomberg of New York said last week: 'Countries that run away from globalisation in the 21st century - as with those that ran away from capitalism in the 20th century - will pay a heavy price for decades to come.'

Some are using the unease created by globalisation to argue for protectionism, in the false belief that tariffs can protect jobs and preserve wealth.

Of course they are wrong. But do not underestimate the appeal of their arguments, or the consequences for China if they succeed.

The EU trade deficit with China increased by 20 percent last year. And it continues to rise by 15 million Euros- every hour.

This will have a profound affect on European politics. The same is true for America.

The forces of protection are once again on the march…

… once more gathering against free trade …

…once more circling around open economies…

…in the false belief that tariffs can protect our jobs and preserve our wealth.

And make no mistake about the danger this poses to China.

Trade now accounts for some two thirds of your economy, compared to around a quarter for other large economies.

Rising tariffs and taxes could have an untold impact on the prosperity of your country - and your people.

I am proud to come from a country where all significant political leaders support free trade.

But for us to defeat the forces of protection, we need your help.

We need China to demonstrate that you too are moving towards greater openness in global trade.

But we also need fairness on the domestic level.

No modern society should accept ever-rising inequality as a price that must be paid for economic growth.

That means governments not putting up the barriers to trade, but equipping their people with education, skills and training - and improving infrastructure. And for us in the West, it means ending the idea that people who are fit for work can live their whole life on welfare.

That should be our goal: to combine wealth with fairness, so that no-one is excluded from the great benefits of our new world of freedom.


The second recognition that I believe is vital if we are successfully to navigate this new world of freedom, unease and insecurity relates to the environment.

Some argue climate change isn't happening. Fortunately, the weight of scientific evidence is steadily destroying their credibility. More worrying, others argue we shouldn't bother to act, because nothing we do will make a real difference.

"China's building two coal-fired power stations every week", they say. "Why should we act if they won't?

These people have got China wrong.

Here in Chongqing, you see the consequences of turbo-charged growth in the impact on the air quality and pollution levels in the city.

There is growing awareness across China of the fragility of your environment.

That water is short, acquifers are drying up, and deserts are advancing towards cities.

The risk that rising sea levels could submerge Shanghai in fifty years.

And those people are wrong to say that China isn't taking action.

You are, with targets for renewable and energy efficiency.

But I believe we must go further.

I believe that we must now recognise the vital connection between environmental protection and environmental accountability.

The world needs a clear, fair and binding international agreement on climate change.

This is as much a priority for China as the rest of the world.

Any international agreement on climate change must be fair. Last week's meeting in Bali was an important step in the right direction.

Yes, the bigger the country and the greater the carbon emissions, the greater the action required - but per capita emissions matter too.

Equally, the later that any country came to industrial growth, the less responsibility it has for emissions already in our atmosphere, so its obligations in tackling climate change should reflect that.

For my country, which led the Industrial Revolution, this means that today we must lead the Green Revolution in the new technology of renewables, energy efficiency and decentralised energy.

And I can announce today one important way in which the next Conservative Government will do just that.

Both Britain and China have large reserves of coal. Yet, today, burning coal for electricity is a huge contributor global warming.

But we are on the brink of accessing a technology that could change all that.

Carbon Capture and Storage.

This could increase our energy security - and help tackle climate change at the same time.

Right now, at least a dozen CCS pilots are ready to launch around the world.

But even though we have the depleted oil and gas fields that are ideal for testing this technology, not a single pilot is yet taking place in Britain. We cannot afford this kind of delay.

So I can announce that developing green coal will be a priority for a Conservative Government: we will do what it takes to make Britain a world leader in this crucial field.

All existing coal-fired power stations should be retro-fitted with CCS, and all future coal-fired power stations should be built with CCS.

If we don't do this, we will not meet our carbon emissions targets.

Of course, today the technology is not yet fully in place.

But that is not a case for inaction now.

Our Government should ensure that no new coal-fired power station should proceed without using it as a basis for trials for CCS technology.

And today, I want to make this bargain with you.

We will strain every sinew to create viable and affordable green coal technology. And we will work with you to green your coal power stations and help you meet your environmental protection targets.

But we need something in return - the second vital aspect of environmental accountability.

We need China to make its data - about emissions, about efficiency, about imported timber - more transparent. We will not tackle climate change unless we have accurate information - to judge performance, to trade carbon, and to make a post-Kyoto international climate change agreement work.


So we must recognise the connection between wealth and fairness.

And we must recognise the connection between environmental protection and environmental accountability.

The third recognition I would like to set out today concerns the role of our two countries in the world.

We must recognise the connection between leadership and responsibility.

Economic globalisation has torn down the barriers that once kept people apart.

But today it is not just people who move freely, but violent ideology.

Not just goods that are traded, but nuclear capability.

And not just technology which is transferred, but crime and drugs.

So the simple truth is this.

If we all want to benefit from the prosperity and opportunity that come from our new world of freedom…we cannot forgo our responsibility to confront the new world of insecurity: both to protect our own security, and to play our part in protecting the security of the world.

Because these challenges ignore geographical boundaries, dealing with them means moving away from thinking of individual countries as the world's policemen.

Instead we must recognise the stake that every country has in protecting the world.

And you, in China, should be particularly alive to this.

Because great powers have a bigger interest than anyone in preserving stability.

As your star rises once more in the world, so does the size of your stake in preserving global security and stability. This is partly a question of self-interest.

Today, you are the world's third biggest importer of oil, and ten per cent of it comes from Sudan.

So China has a direct national interest in working for stability in Sudan, and an end to the killings in Darfur.

You have an interest too in making sure Zimbabwe has a sustainable and brighter future.

Be in no doubt about what Robert Mugabe has done to that country.

It used to be the breadbasket of Africa.

Now, it is starving.

Zimbabweans are poorer than they were in 1970.

They live in a country where thousands are killed by disease and malnutrition every month.

And where life expectancy is just 37 years for men.

It doesn't have to be like this.

It shouldn't be like this.

I commend the fact that China has cut back on its aid to Zimbabwe.

I would urge you to go further and end your direct aid for the Government of Zimbabwe altogether.

There are other issues that directly affect your self-interest.

Mass migration will follow jobs.

That means people arriving in your cities.

Organised crime will migrate to where the profits are largest.

That will be your seaboard.

Terrorists who hate the forces of modernisation will want to target the most modernised societies.

That will mean yours.

But it is not just a question of self-interest.

It is also a question of global responsibility. You have already recognised the responsibility your power brings.

I welcome the fact that China has become more active in supporting UN activities, including providing peacekeepers to Congo, East Timor and Lebanon.

I welcome the fact that 900 Chinese doctors now work in African countries.

And in Uganda, it is a Chinese pharmaceutical firm that is introducing a new anti-malarial drug.

But it is in your interests, and the world's interests, to do more.

To continue to bring more pressure to bear on North Korea and Burma, because the stability and prosperity of your country depends on the stability and prosperity of your neighbours.

To help resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis, because the proliferation of nuclear materiel endangers lives in Nanjing as much as it does in New York.

And help deliver and reward good governance in Africa, because your investment in that continent depends on stability and progress.


I believe that these three recognitions will help both our countries fulfil our potential in this century of opportunity and promise, and to ensure that hope defeats fear.

But there is one final point I would like to make.

I mentioned at the start that my job, like Margaret Thatcher's thirty years ago, is the Leader of the Opposition in Britain. I made clear that I agree with our government on the importance of a strong relationship with China.

But on many things we do not agree, and my job is to hold Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his government to account for its policies and its actions.

The position of the Opposition is a formal part of Britain's constitutional arrangement.

I criticise the Government, but I am paid for by the taxpayer.

Every week in Parliament, I ask questions of the Prime Minister which are broadcast live to the whole country on television. Here in China, there is no denying the rise in economic freedom in recent years.

Nor the greater level of political choice available at the local level - for example through village elections.

But when I said that I wanted a relationship that was strong enough between our countries to allow us to talk to each other openly, as friends, I meant it.

In that spirit, let me make clear my hope that in the years to come, your economic opening will lead to a greater political opening too. Because it is no secret that we have differences of opinion about human rights.

There are deep concerns about freedom of expression, of religion, about the extensive use of the death penalty, about the degree to which the media - and access for example to the internet - are curtailed.

We make these arguments not because we think we are the moral majority…that somehow we think we have a monopoly on civilised principles…but instead, because our experience has taught us that in the long-term, progress - whether economic, social or environmental - is underpinned by the rule of law, good governance, pluralism and freedom.

I hope that by the time of my next visit, China will have completed ratification and implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Margaret Thatcher was once asked whether it was more sensible to pursue economic liberty or political liberty first. She answered that it did not much matter, because either way you would inevitably end up with both. I agree with her.

I also believe that the relationship between Britain and China is strong enough for such observations, and I hope they will be taken in the spirit of friendship in which they are meant. Certainly that is the attitude, I believe, of the British people.

The relationship between our countries in 2007, as Premier Wen has said, is stronger than it has ever been. And the interest in Britain in China is greater than it has ever been.

This winter, the British Museum in London is the temporary home to twenty terracotta warriors from Xian - the largest number of the statues that China has ever entrusted to foreign custody.

We are honoured to have them in Britain.

It is a measure of the interest that China excites that in just fourteen weeks, over 300,000 people have been to see them.

It is already one of the most popular exhibitions ever held in Britain.

That, I believe, is a mark of the strength of the links between our countries.

And it is a relationship which I pledge to nurture and develop if the British people decide to make me their Prime Minister."

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