On 8th February 2023, H.E. LI Keqiang Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China，sent a congratulatory message to the “Icebreakers” 2023 Chinese New Year celebration jointly hosted by the 48 Group Club, the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK) and China-Britain Business Council (CBBC). H.E. ZHENG Zeguang, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United Kingdom, attended the event and read Premier LI’s congratulatory message. In the message, LI said that 70 years ago, visionary people in the British business community broke the ice with great courage and opened the door to China-UK trade. At present, the international and regional situations are undergoing complex and profound changes, and geopolitics, world economy, climate change, food and energy security and other fields are facing severe risks and challenges. When difficulties arise, it is all the more important to carry on the “icebreaking” spirit, strengthen exchanges and cooperation with a pioneering attitude, properly handle contradictions and differences, improve people’s wellbeing and achieve mutually beneficial and win-win results.
LI pointed out that China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development, upholds the basic state policy of reform and opening-up, and stands ready to work with all parties to safeguard world peace and promote development and prosperity. Both China and Britain are the permanent members of the UN Security Council and major economies in the world, and maintaining a sound and stable bilateral relationship is in the interests of both sides and the world. He expressed the hope that the business communities of both countries will continue to make new and greater contributions to China-UK friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Spectacular of the “Icebreakers” Chinese New Year Dinner 2023 themed around “Celebrating Chinese New Year Together, Setting Sail for New Journey”
The event was attended by high-profile guests and speakers, including: H.E. ZHENG Zeguang, Chinese Ambassador to the UK; Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club; YANG Xiaoguang, Minister of Chinese Embassy in the UK; BAO Ling, Minister of Chinese Embassy in the UK; The Rt Hon Lord Hammond of Runnymede, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer; Mr FANG Wenjian, Chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK), General Manager of Bank of China London Branch; Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chair of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), Group Head of Public Affairs, HSBC Holdings plc; Dominic Barton, the former Canadian Ambassador to China; ZHU Wenjin, General Manager of PetroChina International (London) Co., Ltd.
With the theme of ” Celebrating Chinese New Year Embarking on a New Journey “, the event is the first in-person Chinese New Year event since the pandemic. More than 400 representatives from fields of political, business, academic and other sectors from China and the UK gathered together to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, discuss new businesses cooperation between Chinese and UK, and start a new economic and trade journey between the two countries.
The year 2023 is an important moment for China to embark on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country and marching towards its second centenary goal. It is also a crucial year for the UK to develop into a “Global Britain”. The political and business communities of China and the UK jointly hosted the Chinese New Year celebration on this occasion to promote understanding and friendship between the two countries and establish a solid foundation for new journey and new cooperation.
H.E. ZHENG Zeguang, Chinese Ambassador to the UK delivered a keynote speech
In his keynote speech, H.E. ZHENG Zeguang, Chinese Ambassador to the UK said that the congratulatory messages sent from President XI Jinping to the “Icebreakers” 2022 Chinese New Year Celebration last year and from Premier LI Keqiang to the “Icebreakers” 2023 Chinese New Year Celebration this year represent the expectations of Chinese leaders to the visionary people from both countries and the great importance they attach to the development of China-UK relationship. At present, China is fully implementing the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress and advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization, which also opens up a broad space for cooperation with the rest of the world including the UK. China and the UK should work together in the same direction, uphold the principles of mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness, focus on mutually beneficial cooperation, and properly handle contradictions and differences to push forward bilateral relations on the right track. People in the two countries should make concerted and positive efforts to remove obstacles, expand channels of exchanges and promote China-UK cooperation.
The Rt Hon Lord Hammond of Runnymede, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered a keynote speech
The Rt Hon Lord Hammond of Runnymede, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer began his speech by suggesting that we should continue to deepen our relationship despite some discords about the China-UK partnership at the moment. He highlighted that many global partners worldwide are now stepping up their trade with China, and that the UK should make the same decision. Although differences arise between the two great powers, political differences have never been and must not be a barrier to trade between China and the UK. He stressed that China will become an increasingly important partner as the UK takes issues such as climate seriously. All sustainable trade is based on mutual benefit, and China has always impacted the British people profoundly and helped the UK develop, in which the win-win model is especially important for driving both productivity and economic growth. He concluded his speech by iterating that the UK and China should focus on free trade, encourage mutual openness and tackle climate change together so that both countries can prosper.
Mr FANG Wenjian, Chairman of CCCUK, General Manager of Bank of China London Branch delivered a welcome address
Mr FANG Wenjian, Chairman of CCCUK, said that the successful hosting of the “Icebreakers” New Year Celebration demonstrated the importance people has attach to China-UK relations. It is thrilling that the economic and trade cooperation between our two countries has continued to grow strongly against the impact of COVID-19, geopolitical tensions and energy crisis over the past three years. Upon sharing the commonality of rabbits in Chinese and British cultures, Mr FANG encouraged both countries to leverage their respective strengths and explore more possible areas for developing China-UK economy and trade. He also invited guests to taste White Rabbit Creamy Candy, a traditional Chinese candy, expecting that the auspicious Year of the Rabbit will bring more sweetness and goodwill to China-UK relations. Quoting the famous words of British fairy tale character Peter Rabbit, “Even the smallest one can change the world”, Mr FANG ended his speech by calling on all sectors of the British and Chinese communities to strengthen exchanges, continue to carry on the “icebreaking” spirit, further strengthen the economic and trade ties between China and the UK through an open and inclusive mind and continuous efforts, and contribute to the positive and lasting changes to China-UK relations. Rabbit is the messenger of spring. Mr FANG expressed the hope that the Year of the Rabbit will bring pleasant warmth to China-UK relations.
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chair of CBBC, Group Head of Public Affairs, HSBC Holdings plc delivered a keynote speech
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chair of CBBC and Group Head of Public Affairs, HSBC Holdings plc, said in his keynote speech that China and the UK have a solid foundation of cultural and educational exchanges. As we gradually heal from the grief we have suffered over the past three years, the two countries can start over on seeking a happy, blessed and prosperous future for both peoples. He expressed the hope that China and the UK will strengthen people-to-people ties in areas such as culture and tourism, and cooperate to write a new chapter in the flourishing bilateral economic and trade relations. He also paid high respect to Ambassador ZHENG Zeguang and the Embassy personnel for their contribution to the steady development of China-UK relations during tough times.
Dominic Barton, the former Canadian Ambassador to China attended the event and delivered a speech. He shared with the guests his understanding of Chinese society and culture accumulated through his years of working and living in China. He also hoped to join hands with parties concerned to become a bridge of connectivity and a bond of mutual benefit and trust between China and the West. In his speech, he looked back to the past year’s Russia-Ukraine conflict, energy crisis and inflation facing the world, and looked ahead to future challenges in climate change, energy transition and food security China and the UK will encounter. A new growth engine in the low-carbon era is urgently needed. He expressed the hope that the business leaders present will rise to articulate the need for cooperation in an age where open trade is vital to the prosperity of all nations.
ZHU Wenjin, General Manager of PetroChina International (London) Co., Ltd. delivered a speech
ZHU Wenjin, General Manager of PetroChina International (London) Co., Ltd., said in his speech that the “icebreaking” spirit has inspired generations of people who have worked for China-UK partnership. The UK is a leading climate advocate and its energy industry is a pioneer in low carbon technologies. Under China National Petroleum Corporation’s the guidance of achieving carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, PetroChina International (London) Co., Ltd. is deeply engaged in the UK market while accelerating the reshaping of its business in the energy transition era. Looking into the future, the company will further leverage its strengths, proactively plan and implement emission reduction projects and vigorously promote low-carbon transition, attempting to help the low-carbon cause of China and the UK.
Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club delivered a speech
Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club expressed his thanks to Premier LI Keqiang for his congratulatory message to the event in his speech. He said that Premier LI’s congratulatory message is a high affirmation of the “Icebreakers” movement in history and a great inspiration to the “Icebreakers” in the new era. It will inspire both peoples of all circles to work tirelessly for promoting UK-China economic and trade cooperation and fostering friendship between the two peoples. In his speech, Mr Perry expressed his sincere thanks to Ambassador ZHENG Zeguang for his debuting at the offline Icebreakers event and to the guests present for their positive efforts and contributions to China-UK cooperation. He highlighted that the western countries should work with China, not fear its success. China has spent more than 5,000 years to make its today’s achievements, and it will continue to flourish and grow in the foreseeable future. Every country should understand its relation with others and learn from others, rather than fearing that it will be surpassed. He concluded with a sincere hope that the 48 Group Club will stay true to its mission, have a deeper understanding of China and continue to support China-UK friendship and cooperation for the purpose of mutual benefit, win-win results and a better future for both peoples.
Ambassador ZHENG Zeguang presented the “Icebreakers China-UK Economic and Trade Cooperation Award” to CCCUK and CBBC (From left to right: Mr Stephen Perry, Secretary General WU Lin, Chairman FANG Wenjian, Ambassador ZHENG Zeguang, Sir Charles Bowman, Chief Executive Andrew Seaton, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles)
At the event, Ambassador ZHENG Zeguang presented the “Icebreakers China-UK Economic and Trade Cooperation Award” to CCCUK and CBBC for their outstanding contributions to promoting China-UK economic and trade exchanges and cooperation. In the award ceremony speech, Sir Charles Bowman, the former Lord Mayor of the City of London spoke highly of the bridging role the two organisations have played in the economic and trade field between China and the UK. They vigorously support the long-term and steady development of Chinese businesses in the UK, and meanwhile, actively promote the trade and investment of British enterprises in China, continuously working for the “going out” and “bringing in” strategies. Over the past three years since the outbreak of COVID-19, the two organisations have made remarkable achievements in promoting China-UK economic and trade development through a variety of online activities that exceed the physical distance limits.
VIP guests group photo
Having been held for many years consecutively, the “Icebreakers” Chinese New Year celebration has become an flagship event for the political and business communities from China and Britain. It is an excellent legacy of connectivity, exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and British business communities, encouraging both countries to work together and forge ahead. It is also a platform to exchange and cooperate between contemporary Chinese enterprises in the UK and the British business community, to communicate experience in China-UK cooperation, to tell stories of Chinese businesses in the UK, to promote Chinese culture, to make China’s voice heard, and to advance cooperation and common development of China and the UK. More than 400 guests from China and the UK expressed their willingness to actively create new opportunities for China-UK cooperation in various fields at the new journey stage, and to jointly inject new momentum into the consolidation of China-UK friendship and social development by leveraging their respective strengths.
中国驻英国大使郑泽光，48家集团俱乐部主席斯蒂芬·佩里（Stephen Perry），中国驻英国大使馆公使杨晓光，中国驻英国大使馆公使包玲，前英国财政大臣哈蒙德勋爵（Lord Hammond），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），前加拿大驻华大使鲍达民（Dominic Barton），中国石油国际事业（伦敦）有限公司总经理朱文晋等出席了该活动并致辞。