Mayor Sadiq Khan,
Lord Mayor Ian Adams,
Councillor Nickie Aiken,
Deputy Director Tan Tianxing,
Chairman Chu Ting Tang,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Happy Chinese New Year!
It is a real delight to join you on this beautiful spring day here in Trafalgar Square to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
On this third day of the new year, I wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Dog!
Today, 18th February 2018, we are celebrating the Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square for the 16th time. All these Chinese lucky numbers indicate that today is a most auspicious day.
16 symbolizes "smooth".
18 stands for "making a fortune".
Moreover, the barking of the dog sounds similar to the Chinese word "wang" which means "prosperous".
All these make today a smooth day in a prosperous year that promises a huge fortune.
What is more, this is my eighth Trafalgar Square celebration. Eight is another lucky number. With this happy coincidence, I wish everyone double happiness.
Over the past eight years, I have seen this annual extravaganza drawing an ever larger crowd and the programmes getting better and more colourful, making Trafalgar Square the largest Chinese New Year celebration outside Asia.
It is, first and foremost, a celebration of the Chinese heritage.
China has a long history and splendid culture. For all the days and dynasties in over 4,000 years, the Chinese New Year has remained the most significant and spectacular festival of the Chinese people.
It is celebrated with fireworks, dragon and lion dance, lantern display and riddle games. It is a time for families to get together. It is a season for relatives and friends to connect. It is for sharing good food. It is for expressing best wishes for the future.
Second, it is a celebration of the mutual appreciation between the eastern and western civilizations.
London is a city of rich diversity, where different cultures learn from each other and thrive together.
The Chinese New Year celebration, with its art performances, folk customs and cuisine displays, appeals to people in Britain and around the world as it extols the beauty of a happy life.
It is this common aspiration for a better life that draws people of all cultural backgrounds together, and turns Trafalgar Square into a big melting pot of eastern and western civilizations.
Third, it is a celebration of the ever deeper friendship between China and the UK.
A few days ago, Prime Minister May paid a successful visit to China. During the visit, the leaders of our two countries agreed to build China-UK "Golden Era" 2.0. This entails enhanced cooperation in language, culture, education, and people-to-people exchanges at all levels.
Here in Trafalgar Square, as we come together to celebrate the Chinese New Year, we have the best opportunity to increase mutual understanding, build closer bond and pass on our friendship from generation to generation.
As we enjoy the performance and festive atmosphere, let us not forget those who have worked hard to make it possible.
I would like to express my special thanks to the Greater London Authority and the Westminster City Council.
My thanks also go to the organizer - the London Chinatown Chinese Association - and all the volunteers.
My warmest thanks also go to the Cultures of China: Festival of Spring Ensemble and the Happy Spring Festival Ensemble. They have traveled all the way from China to be with us today.
Let us give them a big hand!
The Year of the Rooster has delivered fruitful results. The Year of the Dog promises greater prosperity.
Dog is our best friend. In both China and Britain, dog is a symbol of loyalty, courage, diligence and prosperity.
I sincerely hope, in the Year of the Dog, in both China and the UK, we will "roll up our sleeves" and join hands to work for the China-UK "Golden Era" 2.0, and for a better future of the world!