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Stephen Perry: I am proud to receive the China Reform Friendship Medal

By Yang Bo, Bai Tianxing (People's Daily Online)    14:15, December 20, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Stephen Perry, chairman of Britain's 48 Group Club, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

To thank the international community for its support and help during the reform and opening up, Chinese President Xi Jinping presented the China Reform Friendship Medal to 10 foreign friends on Tuesday. Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, was one of the recipients, but he's not the first in his family to promote Sino-British friendship.

In 1953, Stephen Perry's father Jack Perry led dozens of British businessmen to China, kicking off the "Icebreaking Mission" to help bridge Sino-British relations. For years, Stephen Perry and other members in the 48 Group Club dedicated themselves to the "Icebreaking Mission," promoting the bilateral programmatic cooperation and safe-guarding of the Sino-UK friendship from generation to generation.

In this article, Perry recalls his China connection, his understanding of the Chinese path and praises the concept of a community of shared future for mankind as he points out the fact that challenges faced by socialist and capitalist governments are similar when it comes to what people want.

The Plenum of December 1978 changed China forever, and began a long-term change of the world. The 48 Group and my company were both very active in understanding the concept of reform and opening up, creating new business forms to enable foreigners to participate, and explaining the process.

This process required us all to spend many hours studying the documents and the reports of speeches and meetings. Eventually, we came to understand that the Party was clear that it had to lead the people towards improved economic circumstances in their lives. This would be done by using the scientific method and finding ways to create a moderately prosperous society in China by 2020, compared with what it took to accomplish in the West in the time period of 200 to 300 years.

The Party was the source of the plan and the continuing improvements. The people of China through their hard work delivered the success ahead of schedule, despite many countervailing winds from inside and outside China.

The transformation of China is spoken of as a miracle, but it is, in fact, a tribute to the hard work of hundreds of millions of people. Foreigners have played their part.

As China continued to grow, we had to find the explanations for many hungry people who wanted to know how to work with China. We saw the transformation of agriculture, followed by the modernisation of manufacturing, and the creation of large export markets. The development of service industries was also very important. However, at its core was the removal of poverty for so many, which is the first human right.

We have so much respect for the CPC and the people of China. President Xi said the challenge now is the creation of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a new era. That is so full of significance for the whole world, including the West. The people of the West are worried about their jobs, their salaries and their futures. The challenges facing socialist and capitalist governments are very similar in terms of what people want. So much of what Chinese Socialism is intent upon delivering contains the answers to the contradictions of Western capitalist dilemmas about sharing and caring for the people.

China has analysed many aspects of Western economies to find its own route forward.

My company and the 48 Group will continue to study and apply what we learn, and that is how we can help Western companies and Governments to understand and cooperate with China.

We are now at a crossroads, but let's hope all countries, whatever their systems, will work together to deliver sustainable economic development together, and not fight, as in the past, for the title of winner or loser. In the end, a Community of Shared Future will be key.

I am proud to receive the award, but it is for my father and all the pioneers of the Icebreakers, back to the early 1950's. Good comes from good families. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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