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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Chinese for Labour Gala Chinese New Year Banquet 2018: Enhance Communications between Political Parties for Closer China-UK Cooperation
Phoenix Palace Restaurant, London, 28 February 2018
2018/03/01

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn,

Mr. Sonny Leong,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a real delight to join you at the Gala Chinese New Year Banquet held by Chinese for Labour.

On this day eight years ago, I arrived in Britain. I have since spent eight Chinese New Years here in London, and I have seen the celebrations becoming more and more popular in Britain.

Eight years ago, 400 thousand people gathered in Trafalgar Square for the Chinese New Year Gala. Ten days ago, this annual event brought together over 700 thousand people, turning Trafalgar Square into the largest Chinese New Year party outside Asia.

I watched Mr. Corbyn's video greetings on social media. Your Chinese New Year wishes were warmly received here in Britain and all over the world.

In my view, there are three reasons why the Chinese New Year has become so popular in Britain.

First, it is the solid progress of the China-UK "Golden Era".

The British enthusiasm for the Chinese New Year reflects the sound development of China-UK relations.

In recent years, the China-UK "Golden Era" continued to make progress on a fast track. We have frequent high-level exchanges, fruitful business cooperation and vibrant cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Early this month, the leaders of our two countries reconfirmed their commitment to building China-UK "Golden Era" during Prime Minister May's visit to China.

Going forward, our two countries will continue to join hands to make our bilateral relationship more strategic, practical, global and inclusive, so as to deliver more benefits to the people of our two countries.

The second reason lies in the enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the UK.

Let me give you a few numbers.

  • Every year, mutual visits between China and Britain exceed 1.5 million, and flights between the two countries have increased to 150 per week.
  • 170 thousand Chinese students are studying here in this country.
  • Across the UK, there are 29 Confucius Institutes and 148 Confucius Classrooms, with a total of over 160 thousand registered students. About 600 primary and secondary schools are offering Chinese language courses. All these numbers are the largest in Europe.
  • And there are now 64 pairs of sister cities between the two countries.

With deeper cultural and people-to-people exchanges, the people of our two countries have gained a better understanding of each other's cultural traditions. They are in the position to appreciate the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and sharing that runs deeply in our traditions. This has helped gather stronger public support for our bilateral relations.

The third reason is the continued contribution of the local Chinese community to the British society.

Mr. Corbyn said in his video message, "Since 1686 when a young Jesuit convert called Shen Fu Tsong was the first Chinese person to enter Britain, Chinese people have contributed hugely to British life."

A few weeks ago, at the Chinese New Year Reception held in the Chinese Embassy, I told the story of a British Chinese doctor Zhu Liangwei. After the Manchester terrorist attack last May, Dr. Zhu jumped on an overnight train from London to Manchester and rushed to the hospital where he worked tirelessly to help many injured.

At the time of all-round growth of China-UK relations, more and more ethnic Chinese like Dr. Zhu are making outstanding contribution to the British society. A natural result of this is that more and more people have come to respect the Chinese people and love the Chinese culture.

Of course, I should not forget to mention the joint efforts of people across all sectors from both countries, including the Labour Party and the Chinese for Labour.

There were quite a few highlights in China-UK relations under the Labour government.

  • Britain became the first major western country to recognize the People's Republic of China.
  • Hong Kong's return to China was another highlight, and it was followed by accelerated progress in China-UK relations.
  • The China-UK comprehensive strategic partnership was established while Labour was in government.
  • And the UK under Labour joined China in launching several high-level exchange mechanisms, including the annual Prime Ministers' meeting, the Economic and Financial Dialogue and the Strategic Dialogue.

Eighteen years ago, Chinese for Labour was founded. Since then, you have made great efforts to raise the sense of citizenship among the Chinese community. You have launched campaigns like the British Chinese Project to encourage them to get actively involved in politics.

I look forward to continued contribution from the Labour Party and Chinese for Labour. I am sure your efforts will help improve understanding between the people of our two countries and promote the sound development of our bilateral relations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting last year, President Xi said, "Mankind now faces global issues that are unprecedented not only in number and scale but also in complexity; the future and destinies of people of all countries are increasingly intertwined."

Under such circumstances, it is all the more important that political parties across the world enhance communications, share experience on the governance of party and country, and build mutual trust through dialogues. Together we can build a community with a shared future for mankind.

In the new year, we look forward to strengthening the communications between political parties of our two countries. The China-UK Leadership Forum is a platform for such communications. We hope the Labour Party will continue to take an active part in this Forum.

We hope to join hands with the Labour Party to advance China-UK relations, to deliver more benefits to the people of our two countries, and to contribute to world peace and development.

In conclusion, I wish Chinese for Labour a prosperous new year!

And I wish everyone present tonight good health and a happy Year of the Dog!

Thank you.

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