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Celebrating Chinese New Year

China in London, Trafalgar Square

FuYing 2008-2-10

Thank you, all of you, for joining us in this extraordinary celebration.

The China Town and London Chinatown Community Association have worked for months to put things together for this magnificent day. I think we should give them our sincere thanks.

I would also like to thank the Greater London Authority, the Westminster City Council and all the other sponsoring organizations for their generous support and thank all the people involved for their dedicated work.

I would especially like to thank the youngsters who came all the way from China. I want to thank their families for allowing us to have them here during the Chinese New Year. They bring us wonderful performances. I also want to thank the local artists who have worked for days to prepare for this day.

This is the Year of Rat as you know and Rat is known for its spirit of hard work and a bit of stinginess which we probably need given the circumstances.

The Year of Rat is bringing opportunities for the world and for China.

China is entering its 30th year of reforming and opening up to the outside world.

At the current pace of growth, China's per capita GDP will double again by 2020 to reach USD3,500.

Maybe not so impressive in UK standard, but that will allow more Chinese to reach a decent level of living.

Having said that, the recent extreme weather conditions which hit most provinces in the southern part of China are a telling example of the new and serious challenges China faces.

Thanks to the efforts of millions, the worst is now over and I am confident that the country will emerge wiser and stronger.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the British Government and the British people for their words of sympathy at time of difficulties in China and thank the Chinese students and people from the local Chinese community for their generous support.

As Britain has become an important partner to China, London is at the forefront of our cooperation.

Remembered for its success with the 1908 Olympics, London is highly regarded in China.

There is a lot Beijing and London are doing together for the 2008 Olympics and the cooperation will carry on for the 2012 London Olympics.

Beijing Olympics is going to open at the 8th Minute, 8th Hour of the 8th Day of the 8th Month of 2008. We in China are obsessed with number 8 because it means good fortune and prosperity.

Lots of people ask me whether China is going to leave some medals for others during the Olympics in Beijing.

I think there is nothing to worry. China is a late comer in many sports areas. But I'm sure what we will be the best of all Olympics is the Chinese food.

Beijing is working against time to be ready to host the 7 million people we are expecting for the Olympics. Everybody in China is learning English, Taxi drivers, the retired citizens. Even the farmers in China have learnt to say 'sorry', and 'bye-bye'.

Those who are interested in getting a glimpse of our preparations may come to visit the Olympic Exhibition at City Hall which has opened on the 6th of February and will last until the 10th of March.

To conclude, I wish everybody a happy, healthy New Year and I also wish to welcome all of you to come to Beijing for the Olympics and for friendship.

Thank you!