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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks > 2013
Speech by AMB Liu Xiaoming at the All-Party Parliamentary China Group Chinese New Year Reception
(Palace of Westminster, 5 February 2013)

Minister Swire,

Chairman Graham,

Members of Parliament,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a real pleasure for me to join you once again. This is the third consecutive year I have had the honour of being your guest at the APPCG Chinese New Year Reception.

A month ago many cities across China were covered with Christmas decorations. This evening in the Palace of Westminster we are celebrating Chinese New Year. These are encouraging indications of growing cross-cultural exchange. It is the way to deepen mutual respect and understanding between our nations.

In a few days time the Spring Festival in China will start. As you will know each year has a symbol and the coming new year is the year of the Snake.

I understand that the snake is not a lovable creature in Western culture. From the Bible we know that the serpent is an evil temptation in the Garden of Eden. From Aesop's Fables, we learn that the snake is an ungrateful creature.

But in Chinese mythology, the snake has many redeeming features that make it more worshipped than detested. For example people believe snakes are little dragons. After thousands of years snakes had metamorphosed into dragons.

The snake conveys quite a number of positive messages. It is symbolic of longevity. We believe snakes live as long as tortoises. It is also highly productive which, for those born in the year of the snake, gives the prospect of having many children and grandchildren. We also see the snake as a guardian of fortune. To my knowledge in Chinese folk stories treasures are usually guarded by a huge snake.

Among all stories about snakes the most popular one is 'Lady in White'. This is a love story of a man and a white snake. After centuries of Taoist training and cultivation, a white snake spirit had gained magic powers and become immortal. She and her maid, a green snake, then morphed into two beautiful ladies and went to look for love in human world.

So, when the snake is chosen as one of the 12 Zodiac animals, they are given many good qualities. These are examples of the traits of the snake:

· health;

· longevity;

· fortune;

· luck;

· prosperity;

· friendship

· and love.

As we usher in the year of the Snake, and look ahead to China-UK relations in the New Year, I wish for all the values that the Snake could bring!

In the New Year I hope China and UK will work together for a new type of relations between major countries. These should be the core characteristics of our relations:

· Our nations should respect each other.

· We should treat each other as equals and properly manage differences.

· We should strengthen dialogue, enhance mutual trust and promote stable and healthy development of our political relations.

In the New Year, I hope China and UK will expand win-win cooperation and promote economic growth and prosperity of our two countries. Great potential in both our markets remain untapped.

I gave an example in a recent speech that British coffee shop COSTA plans to increase the number of their shops in China to 500. They have found every Chinese drinks only three cups of coffee every year, yet the world's average is 240 cups. The gap between the two means an enormous market.

I have been told that Scottish whisky distilleries have already discovered tremendous demand in China.

Of course we also hope more Chinese enterprises will come to explore opportunities in Britain and maintain the strong momentum in Chinese investment in the UK.

In the New Year, I hope China and UK will advance relations in culture and education:

· Increase people-to-people exchanges.

· Improve mutual understanding.

· And strengthen friendship between our peoples.

As an old Chinese saying goes:

'Relations between countries hinge upon friendship between peoples.'

When our peoples have close ties, intimate mutual understanding and deep friendship, relations of our countries will naturally enjoy a solid foundation and strong support.

In the New Year, I hope that our legislatures will work together to increase dialogue and exchanges.

Parliament is Britain's political nerve centre. The National People's Congress is the supreme body of power in China. Both are at the apex of our political structures.

The APPCG from the British parliament and the NPC's China-UK Friendship Group are the implementers of our parliamentary exchanges.

The APPCG is a group of leading British politicians with the power to sway understanding in the UK. I also hope you will pioneer an objective perspective about today's China. In this way you can help British people to view China in a reasonable and objective way and further promote China-UK relations.

In China we call Chinese New Year the Spring Festival. Yet every time we celebrate the Spring Festival we find ourselves still in the grip of winter. Maybe the poem by Shelley offers a best explanation for this Chinese custom:

'If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?'

In the approaching Spring I am expecting a blossoming of China-UK relations!

In conclusion, I wish all of you a happy Spring Festival and a very prosperous year of the Snake.

Thank you!

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