I want to send my very best wishes to everyone celebrating the Chinese New Year – in Britain, in China and all around the world. Britain’s links with China are becoming ever strong and ever deeper. We are on course to record our best ever year of trade up more than 7 per cent in the first half of 2012 alone.
Britain today accounts for around a tenth of all Chinese foreign investment. And as the most open economy in Europe, I want Chinese investors to know that Britain will remain a voice for openness and a force against protectionism in the EU now and in the years ahead. But Britain’s ties with China are about more than a great relationship between our businesses. They are about the relationship between our peoples and our governments too.
Today there are more than 100,000 Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong students in Britain and more than 3,000 British students in China. And as we welcome the Year of the Snake, the celebrations here in Britain will remind us once again of the richness of Chinese culture and the incredible contribution that our Chinese communities make in Britain.
Our two countries are also working together in new and ever more innovative ways. For example, on international development, where Britain is the first Western country to agree a partnership with China on tackling poverty around the world.
General Secretary Xi Jinping recently wrote to tell me that with joint efforts on both sides UK-China relations will continue to forge ahead. I share that determination. I look forward to working closely with China’s leaders and people to realise our shared dreams and I hope that the year of the Snake can be a great year for Britain, for China and for us all.
Xin Nian Kuai Le!