Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, Mr. Sonny Leong, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be back for this year's Chinese New Year Reception co-hosted by Labour Party and Chinese For Labour. Today is the 5th day of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster. Let me first of all extend to everyone my best wishes for the Year of the Rooster.
2016, the year of the Monkey, was just behind us. For Britain, 2016, without question, can be characterized as "a year of change". The "spillover effect" of Brexit Referendum inevitably brought uncertainties and challenges to China-UK relations. The good news is, China and the UK have continued to jointly implement the agreement reached during President Xi Jinping's State Visit to the UK. We have stayed committed to building the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations. We have had effective cooperation and harvested fruitful results. And, China-UK relationship stood the test of time and change.
Politically, leaders of our two countries had a successful meeting in Hanzhou during the G20 Summit. They reaffirmed the "Golden Era" of our relations. Towards the end of last year the three high-level dialogues between China and Britain were all successfully held. These are:
- The Economic and Financial Dialogue.
- The High Level People to People Dialogue.
- And the Strategic Dialogue.
Last year we also successfully co-hosted the First High Level Security Dialogue between our two countries.
Economically, trade and investment cooperation continued to advance. The package deal of the Hinkley Point C nuclear project was signed. And the sovereign bonds and green finance have become new highlights of our cooperation.
Culturally, China and the UK had cooperation in a wide range of areas. These include education, science and technology, culture, health, and sub-national cooperation. Our two countries have co-hosted a series of events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the passing of two literary giants, China's Tang Xianzu and Britain's William Shakespeare. And we are now issuing two-year multi-entry visas to each other's nationals, which further facilitates mutual visits.
Internationally, China and the UK have maintained sound cooperation:
- We have worked together in the UN, G20, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and many other international organizations.
- We have strengthened coordination on global governance, climate change, free trade, sustainable development and a number of other issues.
- We together made joint statements on Syria and Afghanistan.
In short, our coordination on global issues is increasing and more effective.
These achievements would not have been possible without the concerted efforts of both countries. The Labour Party has made its valuable contribution:
- Last year, Shadow Foreign Minister West attended the China-Europe High-Level Political Parties Forum in China for discussions on the "Belt and Road" cooperation.
- Former leader Mr. Miliband and Mr. Liam Byrne went to China for the CPC in Dialogue with the World and had with their Chinese counterparts in-depth discussions on global economic governance.
- Quite a few Labour peers and MPs participated in the Ninth China-UK Leadership Forum and shared their views over the opportunities and prospects of China-UK relations.
- Several Labour peers and MPs were also involved in the Sixth China-UK Young Leaders Roundtable about scientific progress and innovation-driven growth in the age of globalization.
- And after the Brexit Referendum, I had a pleasure to have met with Shadow Foreign Secretary Thornberry and had an in-depth discussion on China-UK relations.
2017 marks the 45th anniversary of ambassadorial relations between China and Britain. The past 45 years have been an extraordinary journey. The future for the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations is even broader and brighter.
Despite the uncertainties of the Brexit, in 2017 we should look at the wider opportunities:
- The opportunities to negotiate a free trade agreement and upgrade our trade relations.
- The opportunities to enhance scientific, educational and innovation cooperation.
- The opportunities to promote global free trade and stand against protectionism.
- And the opportunities to engage in the "Belt and Road" cooperation.
President Xi Jinping pointed out recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos that:
"We should act pro-actively and manage economic globalization as appropriate so as to release its positive impact and rebalance the process of economic globalization. We should follow the general trend, proceed from our respective national conditions and embark on the right pathway of integrating into economic globalization with the right pace. We should strike a balance between efficiency and equity to ensure that different countries, different social strata and different groups of people all share in the benefits of economic globalization."
The UK has high and long reputation for its global vision. I believe that Brexit will not change Britain's fundamental policies of being free and open. I believe there is an opportunity for China and the UK to join hands and take the lead in an inclusive and sustainable globalization process. And I believe there is an opportunity for China and the UK to make our relationship a 'flagship' example for relationships between China and the Western world.
To strengthen and advance China-UK relations require stronger consensus and concerted efforts of all British political parties. Although Labour is in opposition, you have never been in "opposition" to China-UK relations. You have never been "outsiders". I hope you will continue to be strong "supporters" and active participants in building this important relationship between our two countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year is the Year of the Rooster. In the Chinese language, the pronunciation of the word "rooster" is similar to that of "auspiciousness". That's why the Year of the Rooster is a lucky year.
Here, I wish Britain, I wish Labour and I wish China-UK relations good luck and a great success!
I wish everyone a happy and prosperous Year of the Rooster!
Read it HERE at the Chinese Embassy page
Click HERE for the Reception photos