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Friday 23 October 2015

President Xi JinPing visits UK

A senior academic from Southampton Solent University was one of a small group of Chinese scholars from British universities and research institutions invited to meet President Xi JinPing during his visit to the UK this week.

Dr Minghua Zhao, Director of the University’s China Centre (Maritime) was one of 20 senior Chinese academics working in UK universities – including Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial and Cardiff – invited to meet the President at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel on Thursday 22 October.

Speaking after the event, Minghua said: “It was a great honour to be invited to meet with the President, representing both Solent University and the city of Southampton.”

During the meeting President Xi delivered a 20-minute speech in which he expressed great satisfaction with his visit, calling it ‘most fruitful’.

Minghua said: “He referred to Britain as a bright spot (in the West), commenting on how well the Sino-British relations had been developing in recent years.

“President Xi went on to praise the Chinese people working and living in the UK, including the scholars he was meeting, for their efforts and achievements, which ‘help bring China and the UK closer.

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“He encouraged us to continue to work hard in this direction in our respective fields, contributing to and making the most of the ‘golden age’ of the China-UK relations,” she added.

Minghua Zhao has a close working relationship with the Chinese Embassy and sits on the Committee for Selection of the Chinese Government Scholarships (UK).

Southampton Solent has good relations with Chinese government agencies and strong links with the country’s universities and other sectors, in particular the Chinese maritime industry.

The University recently launched the China Centre (Maritime) (CCM) at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The Centre will use its academic excellence, expertise in Chinese maritime affairs and its excellent links with both the Chinese and British maritime communities, to act as a bridge, bringing the two countries closer.

“China’s importance in the maritime industry is growing; it has the second largest commercial fleet in the world and it is the largest shipbuilding country in the world,” says Minghua. “The centre’s aim is to promote closer ties between China and Britain that go well beyond maritime matters,” she continues.

Commenting on China’s maritime focus Minghua says: “President Xi JinPing actively promotes ‘one road, one belt’; the ‘road’ being the Silk Road, an historical trade route linking China with Europe. This was primarily on land but he is now keen to expand this to cover land and sea; something which is very relevant to the both the UK and Southampton, where Solent University is based.”