Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the "Icebreakers" Chinese New Year Dinner
The Dorchester Hotel, London, 6 February 2012
（From Chinese Embassy in UK）
Mr. Stephen Perry,
My Lords, MPs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My wife Hu Pinghua and I are delighted to attend the "Icebreakers" Chinese New Year Dinner tonight.
I must congratulate Mr. Perry on picking a wonderful date for this event. It means we have three big things to celebrate. In Chinese we call it, 'SAN - XI – LIN - MEN' or 'Triple Happiness'.
First, in Chinese culture, New Year celebrations traditionally run two weeks, and culminate in the last day. That is exactly today.
Second, today is the Lantern Festival on China's lunar calendar.
Third, today is the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen ascending the throne. President Hu Jintao has sent a warm message of congratulation to Her Majesty the Queen.
At New Year it is a custom to celebrate, look forward and reflect.
2011 was an extraordinary year in China's history:
· There was the launch of China's 12th Five-Year Plan. This aims to reorient China's growth model, restructure the economy, and improve living standards.
· China saw a strong 9.2 percent growth.
· And China played a responsible role in promoting global financial stability, international economic governance, and addressing global and regional challenges.
2011 was also a high water mark in China-UK relations.
There were many 'first's' in the wide-ranging exchanges and cooperation between our two countries:
· Politically, Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice Premier Li Keqiang visited Britain. They built important common understanding with British leaders about where China-UK relations should go.
· Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo co-chaired with their UK counterparts the Economic and Financial Dialogue and the Strategic Dialogue in London.
· It is important to note the high frequency of Chinese high-level visits to Britain. This shows the importance of China's partnership with Britain and the level of strength of our political relations.
In the business and economic areas there were significant advances:
· The century-old MG company, owned by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, unveiled two new models of MG6. The MG6 is the first car rolled off the Longbridge after a break of 16 years. This created a brand new cooperation model: 'Designed in Britain, Manufactured in China and Assembled in Britain'.
· Our two countries held the first Infrastructure Investment Conference, the first IPR Symposium and the first SME Forum. Efforts are being made by both sides to develop new cooperation models and new growth points. Our shared commitment is to take our cooperation forward.
There were many other areas of progress:
· Take people-to-people exchanges. Our countries agreed to create what will be China's first high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism with any European country.
· Last year, Chinese art ensembles gave performances at the Edinburgh International Festival for the first time. These won enthusiastic audience and media responses.
· The Chinese version of the smash hit musical Mamma Mia was a sell-out success in China.
· Team Britain scooped more individual prizes than ever in the 10th 'Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition.'
· Another happy event was that, after 17 years, giant pandas came back in Britain and settled into Edinburgh Zoo.
Of course, these 'first's' are not enough to capture everything China and UK achieved together last year. But they are symbolic of our shared values of enterprise and creativity. These are the real sources of strength that support our bilateral relations.
In a recent speech at Imperial College London I said: 'innovation is China's path to success'. The same can be said of China-UK relations: 'innovation is the path to a successful China-UK relationship'.
We are now in the Year of the Dragon. In the Chinese culture the dragon is linked to happiness and prosperity. The Dragon year is also packed with big and important events:
· China's 12th Five-Year Plan will be in full swing. The Communist Party of China will hold the 18th National Congress. These are new milestones that will bring China into a new era of development.
· For Britain, 2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen and is the London Olympic year. The eyes of the whole world will be on Britain.
Tomorrow is the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens. He is famous in China and worldwide.
One of his masterpieces was 'Great Expectations'. This title aptly reflects my feelings about the New Year. My 'great expectations' about China-UK relations in 2012 are these:
I look forward to more active engagements.
Building a stronger China-UK partnership is the shared objective of the Chinese and British governments. This has wide public support.
What is pressing now is to turn the sense of common purpose into firm actions. We need to invest more in this relationship and create new growth points and progress. There is no shortage of opportunities:
· China and Britain will celebrate 40 years of full diplomatic relations.
· China will be the Market Focus country of the London Book Fair.
· The UK Now cultural festival is coming to China.
· Furthermore, Chinese athletes look to repeat their success in the London Olympics this summer!
These are opportunities that China and Britain can use to deepen exchanges and cooperation.
I look forward to enhanced trust and understanding.
As a Chinese saying goes: 'Harmony in diversity makes a thriving world'.
Due to differences in history, culture, social system and values, it's only natural that China and Britain may disagree on certain issues.
We don't think it appropriate to impose one's own views and values on others, nor do we believe in 'megaphone diplomacy'. What we encourage is sincere and equal dialogue on the basis of mutual respect. It's a good way to enhance mutual understanding, strengthen political trust and manage differences. This is the precondition and foundation for healthy and steady growth of China-UK relations.
I look forward to a more productive partnership.
Last month, China Investment Corporation made equity investment in Thames Water. This is a major outcome following last year's China-Britain joint initiative on infrastructure investment cooperation.
I'm confident that if we get the direction right and make real efforts there will be win-win outcomes. With that formula there are many more things we can do together such as:
· two-way investment;
· technology sector;
· and creative industries.
To borrow the motto of the Olympics, the goal for China-UK relations this year should be: 'Swifter, Higher, Stronger'.
As we look to the future with confidence and optimism, I must take this best opportunity to thank the 48 Group Club for this New Year dinner.
This is not only a gathering for 'Ice breakers', but also an annual event for China-UK relations.
Sixty years ago, in another year of the Dragon, Mr. Jack Perry founded the London Export Corporation. When he embarked on his 'ice-breaking' journey to China, he didn't have many followers or extensive support. But his pioneering spirit laid the foundations of the 48 Group Club.
Today, the 48 Group Club has leaders and representatives from all sectors and has become an important force in China-UK relations.
Much to our encouragement, we are joined by more and more 'Young Icebreakers' and 'Women Icebreakers'. Their presence brings more vitality to the 48 Group Club and adds new momentum to China-UK relations.
I wish the 48 Group Club a prosperous and successful year under Mr. Perry's leadership!
In closing, may I propose a toast,
To the stronger cooperation between China and Britain!
And to the deepened friendship between Chinese and British people!