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Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the China Lates of the Science Museum: A Delightful Taste of China, A Closer China-UK Bond
Science Museum, 30 January 2019

Sir Ian Blatchford,

Minister Ellis,

Dame Mary Archer,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good evening!

It is a real delight to join you for the China Lates at the Science Museum. I look forward to a charming and beautiful night of Chinese culture and science with friends old and new!

Let me begin by taking this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Science Museum for your continued support for China-UK science and technology exchange and cooperation!

Although we are still five days away from the Chinese New Year, we can already feel the festive atmosphere. According to tradition, Chinese families always gather together to have a big "New Year Eve reunion dinner".

Here tonight, the Science Museum is celebrating the Chinese New Year through popular science. China Lates is your innovative and delightful "reunion dinner" that offers three delicious "courses".

The first course is the original and authentic science and technology of China.

Tonight's exhibitions showcase China's splendid achievements in science and technology in both ancient and modern times, including "An ancient Chinese scroll in AR", "China's space programme" and "Flyers of Mesozoic China".

China had been a world leader in science and technology in ancient times. The achievements were remarkable in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, medicine and agronomy. These had been China's important contribution to the progress of human civilisation.

Today, China is pursuing innovation-driven development.

  • In 2017, overall public and private R&D spending totaled 1.76 trillion RMB yuan, accounting for 2.13% of China's GDP. Of this, company spending accounted for 78%.
  • In areas such as aerospace, quantum communication, high-speed rail and nuclear energy, China has made gratifying progress. They are China's contribution to the scientific and technological innovation and social progress of mankind.
  • Early this month, China successfully landed Chang'e-4 on the far side of the moon. It was the first time in human history that a man-made vehicle landed on the far side of the moon and communicated with the earth via a relay satellite. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in mankind's exploration of the moon.

The second course is the luscious Chinese culture.

In China's traditional academic system, culture, science and technology are interconnected. Classic books of Chinese culture such as the Book of Songs, the Book of Changes and the Book of Rites all contain knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, geography, agriculture and forestry. Tonight, China Lates offers the public an opportunity to appreciate the unique charm of Chinese culture through displays of science and technology.

The Chinese New Year itself is not only a folk festival but also a cultural symbol. There are many cultural and artistic elements in the celebrations of this festival. Take today for example. It is the 25th day of the last month of Chinese lunar calendar. On this day, Chinese families decorate their windows with paper cutting, an exquisite form of folk art.

I am delighted that China Lates also presents colorful displays of Chinese culture, such as lion dance, calligraphy, crafts and legends. These will offer a glimpse into the arts and customs with which the Chinese people have celebrated the Chinese New Year for thousands of years.

The third course is China-UK friendship with an enduring fragrance.

A Chinese adage goes, "Interests wane and power withers; Relations endure for those who stay heart-to-heart."

Cultural exchanges between China and the UK have been keeping us heart-to-heart. It is the most vigorous and productive elements in China-UK relations. A good example is the exhibition "China's First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors" hosted by the World Museum of Liverpool last year. It was a great success, drawing more than 600,000 visitors and setting a record for special exhibitions at the Museum.

Another example is the annual Chinese New Year Celebration in Trafalgar Square. More than 700,000 British people and tourists from all over the world gather to mark the Chinese New Year, making it the largest celebration outside Asia. This year's celebration will take place on 10 February. I hope to see you all in Trafalgar Square.

Tonight, at the Science Museum, China Lates is also a fine example of such cultural exchanges. It is my sincere hope that there will be more and more such high-standard events to help the British people, especially the young people, to gain a better understanding of China's past, present and future. This will cement public support for the sustained development of China-UK relations.

The new year will be the Year of the Pig. In the Chinese tradition, pig symbolises happiness and good fortune. According to the ancient Chinese theory of "Five Elements", 2019 is Year of "Earth" Pig. Earth is a symbol of productiveness, as Gaia is in Greek mythology. Therefore, in the "Year of Earth Pig", we have every reason to work hard and work together to lay a solid foundation for a brighter future of China-UK relations.

In conclusion, I wish everyone present tonight a happy and healthy Year of the Pig!

Thank you!

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