On 3rd February, the 48 Group Club, the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK) and the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) jointly held the “Icebreakers” 2021 Chinese New Year Online Celebration in London. Nearly 1,000 distinguished guests from political, business, cultural, and academic circles of China and Britain gathered online to celebrate the New Year of the Ox to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries as well as enhance mutual understanding and friendship. The event was livestreamed on Facebook and Weibo, attracting more than 300,000 Chinese and British viewers. As a long-term partner of the ‘Icebreaker’ New Year celebration, HSBC, KPMG and Bank of China provided strong support for this event.
Over the years, the “Icebreaker” Chinese New Year Dinner has become a well-known event in the political and business circles of China and the UK. Due to the pandemic, this year’s celebration was held online for the first time. Physical distance has not affected the exchanges and cooperation between the business communities of China and the UK. For the past year, the two countries have interacted frequently, working together to overcome difficulties, and actively promoting the development of China-UK relations. In the new year, China and the UK will actively usher in historic development opportunities, which makes this New Year celebration of the Chinese and British business communities ever more important.
The highlight of this celebration was the keynote speech by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, which greatly boosted the confidence of the UK and China business communities for cooperation and development. Premier Li Keqiang praised the British business and industry communities’ tradition of the “Icebreaker” spirit in his video. He said, “as long as the spirit of the “Icebreaker” is passed on from generation to generation and the fundamental intention of promoting friendship and development remains unchanged, there will be no unbreakable ice, no indestructible barriers”. Premier Li mentioned that the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has brought severe challenges to the world. China and the international community have worked together in the fight against the pandemic, strived to maintain the health and safety of the people, and promoted the restorative growth of the world economy, which has achieved hard-won results.
In the new year, China will maintain the continuity, stability, and sustainability of its macroeconomic policies, and implement scientific and precise policies to promote economic operations within a reasonable range. Premier Li said that China will continue to attach importance to the development of relations with the UK, and hopes that the two countries, on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment, will strengthen their mutual benefit and win-win thinking, expand their positive willingness to cooperate, and strengthen the solid foundation of China-UK relations. He called on Chinese and British businessmen to “work together in their respective fields to form a joint force, to carry forward the spirit of the “Icebreaker” and continue to advance the friendship and cooperation between Chinese and British people.
(Picture 1: Keynote Speech by Mr LI Keqiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China)
Charge d’Affaires a.i. Chen Wen, Chinese Embassy in the UK, John Edwards, HM Trade Commissioner, Department of International Trade, British Embassy Beijing, Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, FANG Wenjian, Chairman of the CCCUK and General Manager of Bank of China London Branch, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chair of CBBC and Group Head of Public Affairs, HSBC Holdings plc., Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable, Former Secretary of State, BEIS and Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats and David Sayer, Vice Chair of KPMG LLP attended the event and delivered speeches.
(Picture 2: Group Photo – All Speakers)
Charge d’Affaires a.i. Chen Wen, Chinese Embassy in the UK delivered a keynote speech at the event entitled “Promoting the ‘Three Ox’ Spirit and Promoting the Stable Progress of China-British Cooperation”. Chen stated in her speech that in 2020, despite severe and complex challenges like COVID-19, global economic recession, and the downturn in trade and investment, with the joint efforts of people from all walks of life such as China and the UK, the cooperation between China and the UK continues to grow.
In the past year, China and the UK have joined hands in the fight against the Pandemic demonstrating unity, just as the economic and trade cooperation demonstrated resilience. Cultural exchanges have risen against the trend, and international cooperation has continued to expand. Chen hopes that China and the UK will seize the opportunity, carry forward the spirit of the humble Ox, and jointly create well-being for the people of China, Britain and the world; carry forward the spirit of pioneering Ox and actively expand pragmatic cooperation between China and Britain; carry forward the spirit of the hard-working Ox, consolidate the solid foundation of China-UK cooperation and jointly promote the steady progress of bilateral cooperation.
(Picture 3: Keynote speech by Charge d’Affaires a.i. Chen Wen, Chinese Embassy in the UK)
John Edwards, said in his video speech that in the face of the impact of the Pandemic, China-UK economic and trade relations have maintained strong resilience, and the trade volume and investment scale between the two countries have achieved significant growth. Chinese companies have benefited from the open, transparent and dynamic economic environment in the UK, while British companies have gained new growth momentum due to China’s large-scale and fast-growing market. The cooperation between China and Britain in the field of green and low-carbon economy is huge and of great significance. He hopes that in the new year the two countries can continue to deepen their cooperation and release more economic vitality.
(Picture 4: Keynote speech by John Edwards, HM Trade Commissioner, Department for International Trade, British Embassy Beijing)
Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, thanked Premier Li Keqiang for his affirmation and encouragement of the “Icebreakers”. He said that this is the first time that the event is held online, Premier Li’s speech not only pointed out the broad prospects of the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Britain, but also inspired everyone to overcome difficulties and continue to move forward. He emphasized that economic and trade cooperation can bring about stable and peaceful international relations. He hopes that everyone will seize the opportunity to deepen China-UK cooperation and create a more prosperous and peaceful future.
(Picture 5: Closing Remarks by Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club)
FANG Wenjian, Chairman of the CCCUK said in his speech that the pandemic has not hindered the exchanges between the Chinese and British business communities, it has brought us closer together. This year’s “Icebreaker” New Year celebration has attracted the active attention of all friends from across China and the UK, the number of participants has also set a new record. Chairman Fang recounted the ancient folklore of “New Year” in China. Through narrating the traditions of Spring Festival and the traditional custom of driving away the monster “Nian”, he placed hope in the victory against COVID-19 and look forward to furthering the China-UK relations.
(Picture 6: Welcome Remarks by FANG Wenjian, Chairman of the CCCUK)
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chairman of CBBC and Group Head of Public Affairs, HSBC Holdings plc. celebrated in his video the relationship and connection between Britain and China. He expressed how wonderful it is to hear Premier Li’s words on the continuing connections between the two countries that go far beyond business. He highlighted that in the face of the challenges of the pandemic and threats of geo-political movements, it is important to remember our common humanity, and aspirations of families, of friends and of countries. He wishes, just as the Premier has said, for our two countries to join hands in an effort to build a better world together.
(Picture 7: Keynote speech by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chair of CBBC)
Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable, Former Secretary of State, BEIS and Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats mentioned in his speech that although the past year has been very difficult for the UK and the world, with the successful advancement of the vaccination program, we are seeing signs of improvement in the current pandemic. China’s rapid economic growth has significantly benefited the UK and the rest of the world. He hopes that in the coming year, China and the UK will establish a good relationship on the basis of mutual respect and continue to push cooperation in various fields to a new level.
(Picture 8: Keynote speech by Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable, Former Secretary of State, BEIS and Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats)
KPMG Vice Chairman David Sayers expressed his best wishes for the New Year of the Ox in his speech. He said that establishing a friendly relationship of mutual trust is particularly important in the current environment. The friendship between China and the UK has a long history. Despite uncertainties, the bilateral economic and trade relations between China and the UK are still developing vigorously. Like always, KPMG will continue to deepen its business in the Chinese market and contribute to the development of China-UK economic and trade cooperation.
(Picture 9: Screenshot of the dumpling making video – British people eating dumplings)
Another highlight of the event is the online interaction between Chinese and British people to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Bao Lin, Minister of Chinese Embassy in the UK, attended the event as a special guest and interacted with the participants. The participants watched interactive videos about the culture of Chinese New Year and traditional Chinese New Year customs (dumpling making, paper cutting, writing “Fu” character). The intriguing content and the scenes of local people experiencing and praising Chinese culture impressed all of the viewers. The Guzheng performances from China and the UK showed the firework of cultural exchange, rousing the viewers with substantial vitality and influence of Chinese arts.
The Chinese New Year is an important window for cultural exchange between China and the UK, this has in turn made the celebration an important calendar event that the British government and British people want to participate in. This interactive celebration provides a good opportunity for the British people to gain a deep understanding of the “inner beauty” of Chinese traditional culture, and strongly promotes cultural exchanges and understanding between China and the UK.
(Picture 10: Screenshot of the Guzheng Performance)
2021 marks an important year for new development in China and the UK. China will embark on a new journey of the “14th Five-Year Plan” and accelerate to foster the new mutually reinforcing domestic and international circulations development paradigm. With the UK officially completing Brexit, and ready to enter a new stage of building a “global Britain” and keen to expand global partners, the political and business communities of the two countries hold the Chinese New Year celebrations at this critical moment, further enhancing mutual understanding and friendship , and laying a solid foundation for deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in the new era.
Viewers from China and the UK expressed their full confidence in the development of China-UK relations in the new era. They will actively applied their respective advantages to promote in-depth and all-round cooperation and exchange between China and the UK in the fields of culture, economics and trade. The guests created cooperative results on a new stage and contributed to the development and prosperity of the two countries for the benefit the people of China and the UK.
(Picture 11: Event Poster)
Other Background Information:
About the 48 Group Club
The 48 Group Club is an independent, influential organisation whose founders pioneered early China-UK trade links in the 1950s. Known in China as the ‘Icebreakers’, it has an unrivalled reputation for fostering positive relations between the two countries. At present, the club has more than 600 members, committed to promoting the development of Sino-British trade relations for more than 60 years, and has played an active role in promoting the development of Sino-British relations.
About the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK)
The China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK) was founded in 2001, mainly consists of Chinese enterprises in the UK and Chinese economic and trade organisations. The CCCUK is a non-profit organisation representing and serving interests of Chinese enterprises, aiming to promote China-UK economic and trade relations. At present, there are almost 300 member enterprises, covering dozens of sectors including finance, technology, telecommunications, energy products, real estate construction, trade etc. The CCCUK has a standing committee with 27 members and five subordinate committees including a financial committee, a technology committee, a supervisory & management committee, an energy committee, and an infrastructure & trade committee.
About China-Britain Business Council (CBBC)
China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) is the leading organisation helping UK companies grow and develop their business with China. We help companies of all sizes and sectors, whether new entrants or established operations. We offer practical in-market assistance, services, industry initiatives and a membership programme providing access, seminars and networking. Our advantage lies in our 23 local offices, Chinese language understanding, impartial advice, a network of 1000 members, unique government relations and key contacts in China and the UK. CBBC has worked with China for 60 years and our team has extensive China business experience.
此外，中国驻英国使馆临时代办陈雯，英国国际贸易部贸易使节吴侨文（John Edwards）、48家集团俱乐部主席斯蒂芬﹒佩里（Stephen Perry），英国中国商会会长、中国银行伦敦分行行长方文建，英中贸易协会主席、汇丰集团公共事务总监古沛勤爵士（Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles），前自由民主党主席、前英国商务、能源与产业战略部大臣温斯·凯博爵士（Sir Vince Cable）和毕马威会计师事务所副主席大卫·塞耶斯（David Sayer）出席本次活动并致辞。