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Speech of Ambassador Fu Ying at the FCO Lunar New Year Reception

22 February, 2008

Lord Malloch-Brown,

Mr. Simon Heale,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to join you for this Chinese New Year celebration by FCO and China Now.

I still remember last March in an elegant restaurant inBeijing, I met Stephen Green and was briefed on a program called China Now. I staged a coup on its original Chinese translation which meant "China Feast".

The current translation (meaning contemporary China) sounds better and more reflective of its theme. I am so glad it has snow-balled to such a big program basket of 800 projects.

I would like to applaud Mr. Green and Mr. Heale and their team for their hard work and excellent organization.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the warm atmosphere of the Chinese New Year. The PM sent New Year greetings to the Chinese people, and massive crowds turned out on the New Year Sunday of February the 10th for the celebrations in Trafalgar Square and in China Town.

There have also been many New Year dinners and receptions like this one, which is the 10th I attended. There are also many other festive activities throughout the country.

The warm atmosphere symbolizes both the spirit of multi-culturalism and ethnic openness of this country, as well as the interest in Chinese culture among the British people.

Many events are widely reported in China. I am sure these positive stories will add to the already existing popular support for relations between our two countries.

When I was with the PM on his successful visit to China last January, I was struck by the extensive common ground that was highlighted at the meetings.

The discussions were clearly a meeting of the mind based on global vision. Both sides saw the historical changes in the world and the need to work together to meet common challenges.

To follow it up, we have China's Special Representative on Darfur in town. He attended a roundtable in the Parliament and had a lively meeting with the press.

He also had productive discussions with Lord Malloch-Brown and his counterpart.

His visit is part of an important effort of the two sides to work together on a difficult issue.

The next political dialogue would be Secretary Miliband's visit to China at the weekend.

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

I am not complaining and I hope the warm relationship will bring good business as well.

I met many business leaders who are enthusiastic about the agreements and understanding at the top level and are expecting results.

As Premier Wen suggested that, we could focus on the 5 areas of technological trade, innovation, energy and environment, financial services and intellectual property.

Back in China, it has been a busy start. When Premier Wen told PM that snow at the start of the year brings good harvest, no one expected that the snow would have affected such a wide area of the South.

According to our estimate the snow-related disaster has caused about 15 billion pounds of losses and it would take another two months to restore all the power grids. China is seriously reflecting on the lessons learnt.

Nevertheless, the assessment is that this disaster would not affect the overall economic picture.

Looking into the New Year, there is much to expect for China.

In March the first National People's Congress after the 17th Party Congress will open which will draw up the policy map for the government.

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.

The Beijing Olympics in August is at the centre of all excitement.

PM Brown spoke with Premier Wen on the phone Tuesday and expressed Britain's full support to China on the Olympics which we highly appreciate.

The Olympic Torch will run through London in April which will symbolize its strong bond to the 2012 Olympics. I am jogging in the morning, practicing to run the first part of the torch relay.

Before the end of the year China would host the Asia-Europe Summit for the first time in Beijing. We strongly hope all the European leaders will come.

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

To conclude, as the year of Rat is the start of a new cycle on the lunar calendar, the China-UK relations are also faced with new opportunities.

I agree with the PM that our relations are stronger than ever and I look forward to working with all of you for a fruitful year.

Thank you!