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Speech by Mr. ZHENG Xi Yuan, Consul General in Manchester to Commemorate the 110th Anniversary of 1911 Revolution


Sheriff of York Cllr. Ashley Mason,

Cllr. Dave Taylor,

Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester Mr Jerry Yeung,

Director of Global Engagement and Strategy, Science Museum Group, Ms.Helen Jones,

Head Curator, Mr Andrew McLean

President of the Sun Yat-Sen Foundation and representative of his family, Madam Alexandra Sun

Representative of the family of Sir James Cantlie, Mr Hugh Cantlie, and Mr. Charles Cantlie

President of the York Chinese Association, Mr Will Zhuang

Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

Good evening,

It is a great honor to be here and standing right in front of the KF No.7 locomotive to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the 1911 Chinese Revolution.

My childhood home was right next to a railway. Every night, I slept soundly to the sweet rhythm of the trains travailing along the tracks. This railway was inextricably linked to the 1911 Revolution. 110 years ago, it was still in the planning stage. The initial funds to construct the railway were raised by the people, but after huge amounts of money had been raised, the Manchu government suddenly announced that the railway was to be nationalized, resulting in the people losing every penny that they had invested. In response, my great grandfather and his comrades planned an uprising.

At that time, the people did not have telegraphs or telephones, so they carved the words ‘August 15th, Release the Light’ on hundreds of wooden signs, which were poured into the river and floated down with the current, spreading the word and gathering comrades along their way. Thus creating the famous historical ‘water telegraph’.

In response, the Manchu government urgently mobilized troops from Wuchang to suppress the situation, resulting in the military strength in Wuchang being depleted and allowing the successful outcome of the 1911 Revolution.

When the People's Republic of China was founded, the Communist Party of China organized and mobilized the people of Sichuan to build the railway immediately, the first ever railway built by the PRC. As a son of Sichuan and as a child who grew up next to that railway, I am full of emotion to be able to stand here today and commemorate the 1911 Revolution in this special and unique way.

Dr Sun said: ‘China is a vast and highly populated country and the railway is the foundation of a nation’. He became the Director General of China Railway and proposed a plan to build 100 thousand miles of railway in ten years. This was his railway dream and was completely linked to the rejuvenation of China. It is this dream that has inspired the Chinese to build railways and has motivated generations of Chinese to strive tirelessly for national independence, liberation and prosperity.

However, at the time, this dream could not be fulfilled because China was suffering from continuous civil wars, subjugation to foreign powers and abject poverty of the masses. But due to the determined efforts of the Communist Party of China and of all the people, China’s railway now stretches as far as the Himalayas and Taklamakan Desert and to all four corners of the country. In 2020, China railway finally passed Dr Sun’s landmark milestone of 100 thousand miles, including 24 thousand miles of high speed rail. Now we can say with pride that the China Communist Party took up the legacy of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and made both of his dreams a reality. We are the staunchest supporters, the most loyal collaborators and the most faithful successors of Dr. Sun's cause.

Today we are honored to meet online with representatives from Dr Sun and Sir James Cantlie’s families. The engine in front of us has witnessed the great friendship between them for over a century. It is also a symbol of friendship between Chinese and British people. After 100 years, railway is still the strongest link between China and Europe, between China and Britain. By the end of August 2021, more than 10 thousand container trains had traveled from China to Europe by Trans-Eurasia Logistics over an 8 month period. That’s more than four fully loaded container trains every day, and no doubt one of the reasons why, despite the decline of UK trading figures as a whole, the UK-China trading figures continued to rise this year.

The relationship between the Sun and Cantlie families is a perfect illustration of the strength of friendship, proving that Chinese and British people can work together to build a bright future, that China and UK can be strategic partners, that China does not need to be seen as a challenge, a threat or an opponent, but that friendship can provide positive opportunities for both countries. A friendship that I hope will continue to grow and flourish.

Finally, on behalf of the Consulate General in Manchester, I am honored to extend my sincere thanks to Madam Alexandra Sun and Dr Sun’s descendants, to Mr Hugh Cantlie and Mr Charles Cantlie, to Mr Will Zhuang who organized this event, to Mr Bob Gwynne, Ms Leena Lindell and to all the volunteers. My special thanks also to our host, Cllr Dave Taylor.

This event was also broadcasted live on Sina Weibo, through the European Times. So may I also take this opportunity to thank the audience in China who stayed up very late to join us as we looked back into history and forward positively to the future.

Thank you, Thank you all.

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