Beijing, 29 January 2015
Chairman, 48 Group Club
Dear Mr. Perry,
On the occasion of the ‘Icebreakers’ Chinese New Year Dinner 2015 in London, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the 48 Group Club and to send my very best New Year wishes to each and every one of the guests. I also want to offer my personal congratulations to Lord Howe on winning the Lifetime Award for his contribution to China-UK relations.
Inspired by the “Icebreaker spirit”, generations of men and women of the 48 Group have worked hard for over 60 years. They have pushed for progress in China-UK cooperation and good-will exchanges. They have strived to build a bridge of understanding and friendship between the Chinese and British people. They have contributed invaluable ‘positive energy’ to the development of China-UK relationship. The government and people of China will always remember their contribution.
Bosom friends make distance disappear. In 2014, China-UK business relations made gratifying progress. Two-way trade was 80.9 billion US dollars, increasing by 15.3% over the previous year and growing faster than China-EU trade during the same period. Last September, at the Sixth China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue that I co-chaired with Chancellor Osborne, the two sides signed 73 outcomes, including agreements and concrete results, to further expand the practical cooperation between the two countries. There has also been positive headway in the areas of finance, nuclear energy and high-speed rail. None of these could have been achieved without the hard efforts of British friends from all walks of life including the 48 Group Club. So, allow me to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly to advance China-UK relations.
China and the UK are major countries with important influence. Cooperation between China and the UK will serve the greater good of the people of the two countries and contribute to world economic progress. Twenty Fifteen is an important year for both China and the UK: It will be an election year in the UK. It will be a crucial year of comprehensive reform and all-round advancement of rule of law in China. It will also be a ‘Year of China-UK Cultural Exchange’. Very soon, it will be the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Sheep will begin. The Chinese legend has it that the Sheep brought the seeds of five grains to mankind. I am confident that China-UK economic and trade ties will grow as strong as the five grains and produce a bountiful harvest.
The New Year marks a new beginning. I wish the 48 Group Club even greater progress in the coming year! And I wish all of you at the ‘Icebreakers’ Chinese New Year Dinner an auspicious and joyous Year of the Sheep!
(Signed) Ma Kai
State Council of the People’s Republic of China