As China’s President, Xi Jinping, begins his UK tour, Professor Sir Keith Burnett FRS, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield, who is the recipient of an individual honour from China for his contribution to the understanding of Chinese language and culture, discusses the significance of this visit.
“I don’t think the importance of the state visit of President Xi Jinping can be emphasised enough. There are a great many challenges that both nations face together, from the expansion and development of nuclear technology and advanced manufacturing techniques to confronting carbon emissions, ageing populations, and the challenges of massive urban growth.
“At a time when the UK is starting to think very hard about a Chinese-style approach to planning, infrastructure and technology upgrades, the visit of President Xi Jinping presents a perfect opportunity to develop the conversation about the key collaborations this will involve – faster high-speed trains and nuclear developments beyond the present project at Hinkley Point C – things that China and the UK can together develop to meet global needs.”
Commenting on why Britain appeals to Chinese academic institutes and companies as prospective research partners, Professor Burnett adds.
“Britain already has a great academic reputation worldwide, with its many world-leading learning institutions attracting almost 90,000 students from China every year.
“In research and development, Britain’s track record does not just concern the safety and security of its technology. Britain has a pioneering approach to training and skills which draws from China’s idea of the value of the labour force, and we aim to achieve the very highest standards of higher vocational training in order to do justice to our world-class research and manufacturing capabilities, and to the local and regional economies that support our centres.
“We are also well-placed to spread a greater understanding of the culture and values that the UK and China hold in common and the many ways in which the two nations are apt partners and friends.
“In Sheffield, for example, this partnership with Chinese universities has given us the University’s Confucius Institute – a centre of excellence in learning about Chinese culture and language that benefits school pupils, students, academics and professionals and helps to engender a spirit of trust in Chinese industry. In the UK, Chinese partners know that they can rely on UK firms’ trust.”
Read Professor Burnett's full thoughts on the Sheffield University website, and see him on Sky News below.