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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the "Icebreakers" Chinese New Year Dinner 2018: Play a Golden Symphony in the New Era | Updated: 2018-02-13 17:42

Chairman Stephen Perry,

Mr Liu Mingkang,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good evening!

It is a real pleasure to join you at the annual "Icebreakers" Chinese New Year Dinner.

The New Year's Eve is only two days away. I have been looking forward to the "Icebreakers" dinner, and to the opportunity to sit down with friends old and new and share with you my thoughts on the past year and my expectations for the new year.

In the Chinese calender, sixty years form a cycle. 

Exactly two cycles ago, in the final days of the Qing Dynasty, reformists in China launched a movement in 1898. They sought to stop the foreign bullying and dismemberment of their country through reform. However their attempt failed and was henceforth known as the "Hundred Day's Reform". 

Now, after two cycles, both China itself and its relations with the world have achieved tremendous and historic progress. The same is true in the relations between China and the UK. 

What a sea of change two cycles have brought about!

The coming New Year will be the Year of the Dog. In both China and Britain, dog is regarded as a symbol of loyalty, courage and good luck. Moreover, the barking of the dog sounds similar to "prosperous", or "wang", in the Chinese language. 

For the Chinese people, "wang" is our hope for ourselves, for our country and for the future. In my view, there is no better word than "wang" to describe the development in China and the progress in China-UK relations in the past year.

For China, 2017 was a prosperous and epoch-making year. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China outlined a grand blueprint for China's development in the future. It also ushered in a new era for building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

For China-UK relations, 2017 is also a prosperous and fruitful year.

It was a year of consolidation and success.

• We celebrated the 45th anniversary of ambassadorial diplomatic ties between China and the UK. 

• President Xi and Prime Minister May had a successful meeting during the G20 Summit in Hamburg. 

• And the two countries maintained frequent high-level exchanges.

All these underscored the strategic, practical, global and inclusive nature of China-UK relationship.

2017 was a year laden with fruits of cooperation.

• Over 140 outcomes were reached during the new rounds of the China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue, the High-Level People to People Dialogue, and the High-Level Security Dialogue.

• Bilateral trade exceeded $79 billion, with British export to China up by nearly 20%.

• Chinese investment in the UK topped $19.1 billion, and British investment in China was over $22.5 billion.

• The China-UK Joint Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation was signed. This is the very first such document for China's cooperation with other countries in the field of science and technology.

2017 was a year of many highlights in China-UK cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.

• Chancellor Hammond attended the Belt and Road Forum as Prime Minister May's personal envoy.

• The UK became the first major Western country to sign the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road.

• The City Envoy to the Belt and Road Initiative was appointed and the City Expert Board was set up. I am very pleased that Mr. Douglas Flint, the City Envoy, and his wife Fiona are with us tonight.

• A total of £25 billion was pledged in support of Belt and Road projects in Asia.

• The UK also joined China in announcing the establishment of a bilateral investment fund, with an initial capital injection of $1 billion.

2017 was a year of ever deeper cooperation between China and the UK in global affairs.

• From promoting economic globalization to improving global governance, from opposing protectionism to tackling climate change, our two countries broadened our consensus on a wide range of global issues. 

• We also maintained close communication and cooperation on international hotspots, including the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, the Iran nuclear issue and the situation in Syria.

While we take great pride in our accomplishments in the past year, we are full of expectations for the new year.

• In China, 2018 is the opening year for the implementation of the blueprint outlined at the 19th Party Congress.

• It also marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up.

• For China-UK "Golden Era", 2018 is the year for us to shift our bilateral ties into a higher gear.

Prime Minister May's successful visit to China at the beginning of the year is a good start for China-UK relations in the whole year.

First, the visit outlined a new blueprint for China-UK ties.

During the visit, leaders of our two countries exchanged views thoroughly on China-UK relationship from strategic and global perspective. They agreed on building a "Golden Era" 2.0.

Second, the visit harvested new fruits of business cooperation.

China and the UK reached 12 inter-governmental agreements on cooperation and signed business contracts worth about £9.89 billion. These are expected to create 2,666 new jobs in the UK.

What is more,

• Standard Chartered Bank received a lead underwriting license for overseas non-financial corporate Panda bonds.

• China's Jingdong Group planned to sell £2 billion worth of British goods in the Chinese market in the coming two to three years.

The list can go on and on.

Third, the visit boosted bilateral cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

It was filled with new highlights in educational and cultural cooperation and interactions between the young people. 

• In the Chinese social media, Prime Minister May is affectionately known as "Auntie May". 

• The Chinese and English languages have shown "great" appeal in both countries respectively.

• The people of the two countries are drawn closer to each other than ever before. 

With this good start in the year of the dog, there is every reason to be confident in China-UK "Golden Era" 2.0 if we all pull together in the spirit of the DOG. 

By that I mean: 

• D stands for diligence.

• O stands for obligation.

• G stands for goal.

First, in the spirit of diligence, let us work hard to seize the new opportunities.

Both China and the UK now stand at the entrance to a new historic stage. Each embraces a new era, and each has a new dream. 

Our converging new eras set the stage for our two countries to explore opportunities and achieve common development. Both the Chinese Dream and the British Dream point to broader and more dynamic cooperation.

China is committed to building a modernized economy and an open economy of higher standards. This means that China will open its door wider to the world. And this will create more opportunities for the UK.

November 2018 will see the opening of the first-ever China International Import Expo in Shanghai, where all countries, including the UK, are welcome to share the opportunities created by China’s development.

The UK is committed to building a "Global Britain". For this purpose, Britain is accelerating the implementation of its Modern Industrial Strategy and has vowed to strengthen economic and trade links with global partners. In this process, Britain could play a unique role in the Belt and Road Initiative.

It is important that both our countries seize these historic opportunities in the new era to advance China-UK relations and promote common development.

Second, in the spirit of obligation, we are duty-bound to gather new impetus for our bilateral cooperation.

For four decades, reform and opening-up have served as the powerhouse for China's growth and its interactions and win-win cooperation with the world.

Both China and the UK are committed to upholding and promoting free trade and open economy. We both have long benefited from it. 

Openness creates vitality. Cooperation generates power for growth. It is therefore important that our two countries continue to uphold the open spirit. It is important that we continue to build partnership.

• The Belt and Road Initiative will create new opportunities and gather new impetus for broader, higher-level and deeper cooperation that is in the interest of both China and the UK. Under this framework, there is a great potential to advance cooperation on investment and financing, and to jointly explore a third market.

• More impetus could come from matching the development strategies of our countries and encourage business cooperation in infrastructure, nuclear power, finance, high-tech and other fields.

• Further impetus comes from language exchanges. We should encourage and promote language inspired cultural events of all kinds and colours. This is one of the most effective ways to build a strong bond of friendship and understanding between the people of our two countries.

• Impetus also comes from the field of innovation. We need to explore cooperation on new industries such as artificial intelligence, green energy, digital economy and sharing economy. These are key to an all-round and sustainable development of China-UK cooperation.

Third, we must have a clear goal and focus on producing new outcomes.

The road to the greatest achievements is always strewn with difficulties. Despite what we have achieved, a new year is a new beginning.

I hope friends from both China and the UK will aim high and continue to enrich the China-UK "Golden Era".

I hope you will carry forward the spirit of "icebreakers" in the new era. I hope you will blaze new paths and set China-UK relations as an exemplar of a new type of major-country relations.

I look forward to working with you to translate the "Golden Era" 2.0 into reality. This is an important agreement of the leaders of our two countries. It calls for deeper mutual trust, determination against disruption, and a down-to-earth approach.

I am convinced that the accelerated and upgraded China-UK "Golden Era" will deliver more "golden fruits" for the people of our two countries. Moreover, it will inject positive energy to world peace and prosperity. It will be a new contribution to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Chinese people often say, if you don't get moving, you won't reach even the nearest destination; if you don't take action, you won't achieve even the smallest success.

The China-UK "Golden Era" 2.0 is our shared goal. To reach this goal, we must not entertain impractical notions or indulge in rhetoric. We should get down to tireless work.

In the history of China-UK relations, the British business community has had many pioneers. In the 1950s, the first generation of "icebreakers" led by the late father of Chairman Stephen Perry, known affectionately by his Chinese friends as Old Perry, overcame obstacles and "broke the ice" to trade with New China.

Today, as we work together to build the China-UK "Golden Era" 2.0 and advance Belt and Road cooperation between the two countries, we still need "icebreakers".

Let us carry forward the spirit of "icebreakers".

Let us seize the opportunities and join hands to blaze new trails.

Let us dedicate our wisdom and strength to building the China-UK "Golden Era" 2.0 and play a "golden symphony" in the new era.

Now please allow me to propose a toast:

To the China-UK "Golden Era" 2.0,

To the Chinese Dream and the British Dream, and

To a happy and prosperous Year of the Dog for all the friends present tonight.


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