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Speech of Ambassador Fu Ying at Chinese New Year Network Reception

I would like to thank the CBBC and the 48 Group Club for organizing this event to mark the Chinese New Year. Let me also thank the RBS and Bank of China for their generous support.

This is the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, better known as the lantern festival, which is a day for family gathering and the start of hard work if one expects to have a good harvest in autumn. On this day, people are very careful not to eat anything that is not round shaped because round shape is very important promise that the family will stay together and your career will continue to be fruitful. Tomorrow, people will start working and 150 million people will get to the cities where they work. I hope it will be good weather.

This is my first Chinese New Year in London and I am all but overwhelmed by the warm atmosphere all around which is reflected not only by the three New Year greetings by the PM to the Chinese people, but also by the huge crowds that turned out for the New Year celebrations on Sunday the 10th.

The Chinese New Year is also celebrated in the many New Year dinners and receptions.

The last New Year reception I am attending will be at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office tomorrow which will be the conclusion of the traditional New Year season, which culminated in the Trafalgar Square celebrations.

The warmth about Chinese New Year symbolizes Britain's friendliness towards China and interest in Chinese culture.

All these events are well reported in China. A visiting colleague told me that my image was seen on TV, newspapers and the internet.

I am sure these festive highlights will add to the enabling environment for business relations and other interactions between our two countries.

For me and my colleagues at the embassy, these have been days of hard work, like labor day, as high level exchanges go on non-stop between our two countries.

After a successful visit by Prime Minister Brown to China at the start of the year, Gu Xiulian, a Vice Chairperson of the Chinese National People's Congress came and brought cultural programs for women's exchanges.

Then it was the visit of State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan who attended the opening of China Now and meeting of the task forces. He had good discussions with PM and the Chancellor.

Today China's Special Representative on Darfur is in town. He had a round table in the Parliament and met with the press just now. He will speak at Chatham House tomorrow.

Mr. Miliband is leaving for Beijing at the weekend.

One of my predecessors told me that the London posting is good for reading books. I have to confess that I have not even turned a single page of a book since this year.

I am not complaining and I hope the warm relationship will strengthen our good business relations as well.

According to our statistics, bilateral trade last year was US$ 39.7 billion.

After attaining the target of US$ 40 billion two years ahead of time, there is good reason for us to believe that the PM's new target of US$ 60 billion will be met by 2010.

As the Chinese Premier suggested to Prime Minister Brown, we could focus on the 5 following areas: technological trade, innovation, energy and environment, financial services and intellectual property.

As you are aware, many parts of China were hit by snow-related disasters which caused, according our statistics, about 15 billion pounds of losses.

Over 8,000 high voltage power pylons fell down and road and rail transport was cut off in addition to many other damages.

Though life is basically back to normal, it may take 2 months to fix all the damages.

However, our assessment is that this calamity will not affect the economic picture as a whole.

The IMF's growth forecast for China is 10% for this year.

Before coming here, I was reading some comments by the Chinese Premier about the economic outlook for China this year.

He is concerned about the structural imbalances in the Chinese economy, i.e. overdependence on low-value added production, massive energy consumption, over investment in fixed assets, excessive credit expansion and serious imbalance in international trade.

The international economic uncertainty is also a big concern for him. In addition to the sub-prime crisis, the surging prices of oil and grains as well as rising protectionism may all affect China in one way or another.

The policy focus of China at this moment is to guard against over heatedness and prevent structural price rises from developing into entrenched inflation while being mindful of the danger of stagflation.

Looking into the New Year, there is much to expect for China. Let me site the major ones:

The first National People's Congress session after the 17th Party Congress will open in a week's time. It will not only elect a new cabinet leadership but also chart the course for the government.

The new NPC is also expected to adopt some new laws in the year including such important ones as the Labor Contract Law, Anti-trust Law, and Rural and Urban Planning Law and others.

In April an important conference will be held in Boao of Hainan Province, marking the 30th anniversary of the policy of reform and opening up which will be attended by senior leaders and business executives both home and abroad. I hope CBBC will be represented at the forum.

The Beijing Olympics is of course at the centre of all excitement.

China appreciates Britain's support. Prime Minister Brown spoke with Premier Wen on Tuesday and expressed Britain's full support to China on the Olympics. I met HRH Princess Anne yesterday and discussed her attendance at the games.

Before the end of the year China will host the Asia-Europe Summit for the first time in Beijing. We strongly hope Prime Minister Brown will attend the ASEM Summit.

Last but not least, China is planning a space walk on the moon before the end of the year.

To conclude, as the year of the Rat is the start of a new cycle, China UK relations face new opportunities.

I understand the CBBC is also planning a follow-up business summit in mid-April which will help draw a clearer roadmap for fulfilling the agreements reached by leaders of the two sides.

All in all, there is a lot to accomplish by working together. I look forward to a fruitful year of the Rat for China-Britain relations.

Thank you and Happy New Year!