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Home > Ambassador Liu > Events > 2015
Chinese New Year at the Palace of Westminster

At noon on Wednesday 11 February, in the majestic Palace of Westminster overlooking the quiet River Thames, MPs emerged from a heated debate at Prime Minister's Question Time and headed for their next events. Many of them made their way towards the Terrace Pavilion by the river.

Inside the white tent of the Terrace Pavilion, guests were gathering and a Chinese New Year reception was soon to begin. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, British MPs, government officials and business representatives were having pleasant conversations and exchanging best wishes for the Chinese New Year.

As host of the event, Chairman Richard Graham of All Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG) was first to give a speech. After a much cheered opening in Chinese - "羊年快乐" (Happy Year of the Sheep), he reviewed some of the APPCG events in 2014 and thanked the MPs and sponsors for their understanding and support. He continued to stress APPCG's commitment to closer inter-parliamentary exchange between the UK and China, and to further contribution to the "indispensable" UK-China relations in the new year.

As one of the organisers of the reception, Vice-Chairman Graham Cartledge of the China-Britain Business Council talked about three major opportunities for British enterprises hoping to do business in China in the coming year, i.e. the "new normal" in China's economy, the focus on innovation and the accelerated development of free trade areas. He expressed confidence in new breakthroughs in UK-China trade in the Year of the Sheep.

Patricia Yates, Strategy & Communications Director of VisitBritain, a sponsor of the event, announced with excitement that the number of Chinese tourists visiting the UK had kept rising, totaling 190,000 person-times last year. Chinese tourists on average spend more in Britain than their peers from other places. Every 22 Chinese visitors may help create one job opportunity in the UK. Therefore, the UK will continue to be "China-ready" and try to become the most popular European destination for Chinese tourists.

Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss delivering a speech

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Elizabeth Truss was very familiar with her subject when talking about China, having visited the country twice last year. She referred to her first visit to China last year as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare as a trip to learn about how maths was taught in Chinese primary and middle schools. She even invited maths teachers from Shanghai to give lectures in the UK. In her second visit to China as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, she had in-depth exchanges with the Chinese side on exchanges and cooperation in environmental protection, food trade, food safety, agricultural technologies and water resources utilization and reached broad consensus. Truss mentioned proudly Costa Coffee, a British food enterprise which is developing fast in China, expressing confidence in its China business surpassing Starbucks in size. She hoped that the UK and China would learn from each other and achieve win-win cooperation.

Ambassador Liu delivering a speech

Ambassador Liu delivered a passionate keynote speech. He said China-UK relations yielded fruitful results in 2014. The momentum of high-level exchange was strong, and there were breakthroughs in bilateral commercial and economic cooperation and positive development in people-to-people exchange. According to the Ambassador, the year of 2015 is going to be an important year for China-UK relations. It started with a call at UK port by the world's biggest container ship owned by China Shipping on its maiden voyage. This was followed by a successful port call in Portsmouth by a Chinese Navy escort fleet. The bilateral relationship has set sail on a new voyage. The Duke of Cambridge will soon begin his first visit to China. With this royal visit, China and the UK will kick off a series of high-level visits. China and the UK are allies and victors of World War II as well as founding members of the United Nations. The two countries will join hands in commemorating two 70th anniversaries: the victory of the anti-Fascist War and the founding of the United Nations.

Ambassador Liu said, "2015 brings greater confidence in China-UK relations." The confidence lies in the belief that there is a broad consensus within and outside the UK Government to develop stronger China-UK relations, and that the common interests of the two countries far outweigh their differences. The confidence lies in the belief that deepening China-UK inter-parliamentary exchanges falls in line with the shared interests of the members of both the Chinese National People's Congress and the UK Parliament, and that the two sides will respect each other, learn from each other and share experience in the areas of legislation, supervision and governance. The confidence also lies in the belief that APPCG will continue to play a positive role in promoting China-UK relations and inter-parliamentary exchanges.

Guests at the reception, including Lord Bates, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office and Member of the House of Lords and Mark Garnier, APPCG Vice-Chair and Member of Parliament, shared the consensus that China's development is an important opportunity for the UK, and that it serves the interests of both countries to continue to promote and deepen exchanges and cooperation in various fields. There were high hopes for new progress in China-UK relations in the new year.

Ambassador Liu also had cordial conversations with a few candidates of Chinese descent who will run in the general election. He wished them Happy New Year and success and historical breakthroughs in the elections.

As Big Ben sounded the Westminster Chimes and the Chinese New Year Reception came to an end, the curtain was rising on a promising Year of the Sheep for China-UK relations.

Group photo of Ambassador Liu, Secretary of State Truss (second from left) and Chairman Graham (third from right) with candidates of

Chinese descent for the coming general election

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