Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Opening Ceremony of Festival of Spring, Chinese New Year Celebration
Trafalgar Square, London, 10 February 2019
Mayor Sadiq Khan, Minister Mark Field, Lord Bates, Lord Mayor Lindsey Hall, Councillor Nickie Aiken, Chairman Chu Ting Tang, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends:
Happy Chinese New Year!
It is a real delight to join you again on this beautiful spring day here in Trafalgar Square to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
The Chinese New Year is the most significant festival of the Chinese people. It is celebrated with lantern display, folk fair and opera performance. It is a time for families to get together, express thanks to the elders and make best wishes for the new year. It is a season for relatives and friends to connect and enjoy each other's company. It is a symbol of good fortune and harmony. It embodies our best wishes for a beautiful life.
This is my ninth Trafalgar Square celebration since becoming Chinese Ambassador to the UK.
I am glad that, over the past nine years, the Chinese New Year has become a festival for both the Chinese and British people. Since its debut in 2003, this annual extravaganza has been drawing an ever-larger crowd. In recent years, more than 700,000 people have taken part in this celebration every year, making Trafalgar Square the largest Chinese New Year celebration outside Asia. Her Majesty The Queen and Prime Minister May have both sent messages of congratulations to this celebration. Across the UK, Chinese New Year is celebrated in every corner of the land and become popular among British families, especially children.
I am glad that, over the past nine years, the Chinese New Year celebrations have set the stage for east to meet west. Here in the UK, we celebrate with Chinese folk customs, art performances and traditional cuisine. In China, western-style temple fair brings foreign culture, music and food to the Chinese public. In both places, Chinese New Year celebrations have made it possible for different cultures to learn from each other and thrive together. They are building bridges of mutual understanding and mutual learning. The best example is Peppa Pig. This British cartoon character has gained such popularity in China that it has become the "mascot" of the Year of the Pig.
I am also glad that, over the past nine years, the Chinese New Year has borne witness to ever deeper friendship between China and the UK. In recent years, as the China-UK "Golden Era" continued to develop, bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, education and tourism have gone deeper. More and more Chinese tourists coming to the UK during the Chinese New Year holiday season promises not only jobs and business but also opportunities for better mutual understanding and stronger friendship.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends:
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 organiser – the London Chinatown Chinese Association – and all the volunteers. Last but not least, I want to thank the Festival of Spring Ensemble and the Happy Spring Festival Ensemble. They have traveled all the way from China to bring us the exciting performances. Let us give them a big hand!
As we say goodbye to the Year of the Dog, we have high expectation for the Year of the Pig. In the Chinese culture, pig symbolises happiness and good fortune. The Year of the Pig promises greater prosperity. Let me conclude my remarks by wishing all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Pig!