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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the HSBC Chinese New Year Luncheon
Four Seasons, London, 6 February 2017

Chairman Douglas Flint,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a real pleasure for me to attend this HSBC Chinese New Year Luncheon. This is the seventh consecutive year that I have accepted an invitation for this splendid gathering. I greatly value the friendship that deepens on every occasion. I always warmly welcome the opportunity to find myself among so many friends from the Chinese and British financial sector. And once again, we gather together to see off the old year and ring in the new.

Last year was the Year of the Monkey. I shared with you the story of the Monkey King. I summarised the Monkey King's spirit as being comparable to the character of HSBC - namely high-standing, swift, brave and creative.

However, when I spoke to you at this lunch last year, I left out one "defect" ascribed to the legendary Monkey King. The flaw is that he is also mischievous and uncontrollable.

Clearly that is not a way to describe HSBC! But, for sure mischievous and uncontrollable behaviour has featured prominently in the Year of the Monkey as there have been so many surprises and uncertainties.

And these uncertainties could have a wide-ranging impact. In China we have sayings that capture the spirit of our times. One of these goes like this:

"A fire on the city gate brings disaster to the fish in the moat".

Let me explain why it is so. The fish in the moat suffer because people fetch water from the moat to put out the fire.

Today, we call this a "spillover effect".

So, what about the "spillover effect" of the uncertainties on China-UK relations?

To my great relief, the "spillover effect" was short-lived.

And to my great delight, China and Britain overcame the uncertainties. Our bilateral ties steadied in time of transition and maintained the momentum of growth. China and the UK have stayed committed to building the "Golden Era" and kept our cooperation framework and mechanisms running effectively and smoothly.

What is most notable is the progress in our financial cooperation, where fruitful results were aplenty:

  • China's Ministry of Finance issued the first RMB sovereign bond in London, the very first issuance outside China.
  • The Bank of China issued in London its first green bond.
  • The Central Banks of China and Britain co-chaired the G20 Green Finance Study Group.
  • The eighth China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue produced 63 outcomes, including the China-UK Strategic Plan for Financial Services.
  • China Post acquired the exchange traded fund range of Royal Bank of Scotland.
  • The ICBC Standard Bank, under the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, acquired from Barclays a precious metals vault and related vaulting business.

And of course, there was the impressive role of HSBC.

HSBC has always been an active advocate, participant and contributor in the field of financial cooperation between China and Britain:

  • By the end of last year, HSBC had set up 178 branches in 57 major cities in China, outnumbering all other foreign banks.
  • HSBC was among the first international commercial banks to issue RMB-denominated bonds in China.
  • Last year HSBC, and its subsidiaries, donated 48.1 million RMB, or equivalent to seven million US dollars, to more than 20 projects in China's mainland. The projects ranged from education, poverty reduction, elderly care to environmental protection and disaster relief.
  • For four years running, HSBC has been awarded by FinanceAsia the accolade of being "Best Foreign Bank in China". In addition, HSBC won FinanceAsia Platinum Award 2016.
  • And HSBC has also retained a leading position in the process of RMB internationalization. HSBC provides RMB-related business in over 50 countries and regions, and HSBC has been Asiamoney's "Best for Overall Offshore RMB Products/Services" for five consecutive years.

I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to HSBC for what you have accomplished.

At this moment of celebration, it is time to bid farewell to the past and welcome the future.

This year is the Year of the Rooster. The rooster in the Chinese culture stands for hard-working and punctuality. It also signals a bright future and good luck.

The Year of the Rooster began with sluggish growth of world economy, anti-globalization rhetoric and an increasingly complex international environment. However, we found encouraging messages about the way forward for the world economy and globalisation. In his speeches in Davos and Geneva, President Xi Jinping proposed and expounded on the building of a community of shared future for mankind. This symbolises how a stable, open-minded and confident China is putting forward propositions for the benefit of all the world. China is offering its solution and contributing its wisdom to tackle the global challenges.

This is just as Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People's Republic, once wrote in a poem,

"When the rooster crowed, all under heaven is bright."

These words also reflect how, in this new year, there is much China and the UK can do together.

The UK is to trigger Article 50 and start Brexit negotiation with the EU. The UK is also working to set out and implement three themes:

  • Its "modern industrial strategy".
  • Building a "shared society".
  • And creating a truly "Global Britain".

In China this year will witness some 'milestone' events:

  • The Communist Party is to hold its 19th National Congress.
  • China will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in May.
  • Then there will be the ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen.
  • And China will continue to implement the 13th Five Year Plan and deepen the supply side reform.

Both our countries have big and important complementary agendas. Both our nations have as many shared interests as opportunities for cooperation:

  • In the year ahead, we should maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges to provide strong political guidance for the bilateral relations.
  • We should take concrete steps to advance cooperation in trade, investment, finance, energy, infrastructure, scientific innovation, education, culture, and many other important areas.
  • We should work for more flagship projects in all fields.
  • We should seize the opportunity of Belt and Road cooperation and create new cooperation highlights.
  • We should stand for multilateralism and oppose unilateralism and protectionism.
  • We should join hands to advance the globalisation process that is open, inclusive, balanced and benefit-sharing.
  • And we should work together to contribute to the building of a community of shared future in the world.

It is also my hope that in the year ahead that HSBC will carry on your fine tradition of entrepreneurship as you have been since your founding in Hong Kong in 1865. With your proud record I can be very confident that you will continue to be a leader in the business and financial cooperation between China and the UK.

In conclusion, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous Year of the Rooster!

Thank you!

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