UK-China Young Leaders Dialogue

August 8, 2014 8:15 AM

Our Chinese Lib Dem Treasurer, Phil Ling, has just returned from a week long trip to China on a UK-China Young Leaders Dialogue organised by the Great Britain China Centre.

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The trip was designed for a cross party delegation of MPs, special advisors and policy experts to visit Beijing and Chongqing to bridge the gulf in understanding among politicians of both countries.

The visit included talks with the former Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Mme Fu Ying, meeting with the Vice President of the Supreme People's Court and a day of round table discussions on "reform and innovation".

Commenting on the trip, Phil Ling said "The key thing that stood out for me was how similar the challenges of the Chinese were to the UK. Issues such as; improving the health service, the pressures on A&E, ensuring a rounded but vigorous education system, a push for green energy to combat pollution and energy security and how to provide for an aging society."

"Also understanding the use of technology, for example to improve education attainment in rural provinces with lessons and interactions with urban schools. Something which could be considered eventually to help provide UK university courses in China itself."

"Lastly, and one most topical to the UK is the Chinese lesson in migration. Here in the UK the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP talk tough on migration and withdrawing of benefits to migrants. However, it is a false fallacy that this will make a difference. Most migrants to the UK are economic migrants looking for a better life, by working hard, not by taking benefits off the UK Government. In China there is the 'hukou' system which registers people where they come from. It is partly to also prevent rural to urban migration. As those registered in rural areas find it much harder to claim housing, education, healthcare and pensions in urban areas. Effectively the Chinese Government is doing what the Conservatives are proposing. However, such is the economic pull of the cities, rural migrants make up a third of some urban populations despite much reduced rights and benefits. This lesson should be learnt by policy makers in the UK and our approach should be to engage the electorate on the benefits of migration rather than pandering to tabloid headlines and stories."

"Overall the trip was a fantastic experience to share experiences from both countries and to open my eyes to the strengths, and faults, of modern China."