China's botanist gets UK honor

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Botanist Li Dezhu became the first Chinese to receive an honorary Order of the British Empire yesterday, on the United Kingdom National Pavilion Day.

The British Business Awards also gave out an award, for the first time, for Chinese Investor of the Year while there was also a joint China-UK ballet performance.

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and China's Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying attended the ceremony.

The much admired UK Pavilion, also known as the "Seed Cathedral," displays 60,000-plus transparent acrylic rods containing seeds. Many of these seeds were contributed by the Kunming Institute of Botanical Science, where Li works as director.

One of the leading scientists in his field, Li's major research focuses on the development of alpine plant conservation, and the use of plants for food, medicine and construction materials.

Li was awarded the OBE for his contribution to UK/China botanical collaborations, a strong yet largely unknown bilateral partnership.

"I want to thank the United Kingdom for the award and for the support in our collaboration. I hope to further promote such bilateral partnerships in science, especially in the botanical field," Li said at the ceremony.

Under Li's leadership, KIB has established strong relations with some of Britain's foremost botanical institutions. The partnership has helped in the building of both the Jade Dragon Field Station and Lijiang Alpine Botanic Garden in Yunnan Province. They both provide key research for the study of mountain flora in the foothills of the Himalayas.

The British Business Awards, intended to honor companies with large achievements in the past year, was held in Shanghai on Tuesday. In addition to the normal prizes, the Chinese Investor of the Year Award was added for the first time and was given to SAIC Motor Corporation Limited.

The UK is one of the biggest recipients of Chinese investment in Europe. Fifty-five Chinese companies are now listed on the London stock exchange.

"This Expo highlights how the flow of knowledge and experience, and the building of trust and understanding through direct links, are truly the basis of an effective partnership," Prince Andrew said.

The prince also said that British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit China at the end of this year.

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