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Speech at 2018 Spring Festival Gala Dinner
2018/02/09

By Mr. Fang Xinwen, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim

The Chinese Embassy in Singapore

February 8, 2018

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Good Evening! Welcome to the Spring Festival Gala Dinner for the Year of the Dog. The Gala Dinner has become an important annual fixture of the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, and it is also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Lunar New Year with our Singaporean friends.

For the next lunar year, the zodiac animal will be Dog, which is a symbol of loyalty, friendship, perseverance and prosperity. Today is also Xiao Nian, or the little Spring Festival, which marks the beginning of all the celebrations leading to the lunar New Year. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, I would like to wish all of the guests and your families happiness and health in the Year of the Dog.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Spring Festival is also a time for outlook and retrospect. Despite what has happened across the world, China and Singapore have maintained on an upward trajectory. Our lives, though not trouble-free, have enjoyed much encouraging improvements.

I think it’s because the Chinese and the Singaporeans are all industrious and enterprising people, and we tend to keep ourselves busy. So at the end of the year, when we recall where the time has gone, we note with pride that we have made the best use of our time.

I believe we can say the same about China-Singapore relations. We have not wasted our time. With the concerted efforts, our relations have achieved fruitful outcomes over the past year.

Where has the time gone? It has gone into the growth of All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times. In China, the 19th CPC Congress was successfully held. It has ushered in a New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and laid out the grand blueprint to build a great modern socialist country. Regarding China’s diplomacy, it has put forward the strategy to foster a new type of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind. And it has also been re-affirmed that China will stay committed to the policy of forging friendship and partnership with its neighbours.

Last year, President Xi Jinping met with PM Lee Hsien Loong in Hamburg and Beijing. They reached a series of important consensus, which charted the course of our relations in the new era and enriched the content of our All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times.

The China-Singapore relations would not be able to come this far without the trust and support from all of you and from all sectors of the Singapore society. I must take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you.

Where has the time gone? It has gone into the fruitful cooperation between China and Singapore. Last year, both China and Singapore has produced impressive scorecards on the economic front. China’s economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development. In 2017, China’s economy grew by 6.9%. Its GDP passed the 80-trillion RMB threshold and contributed over 30% of the global growth.

In Singapore, the government has put much emphasis on preparing its people for the future and building a smart nation. All these efforts have contributed to Singapore’s success in its journey of economic transition. And at the end of the year, Singapore has beaten all the pessimistic forecasts with a 3.5% growth rate.

China-Singapore cooperation has been closely linked with the development of both China and Singapore. In 2017, China maintained as Singapore’s largest trading partner and Singapore as China’s largest foreign investor for the fifth consecutive year.

Under the Belt and Road initiative, we are working together to build the three platforms of connectivity, financial support and third-party cooperation. Our joint efforts to build the Southern Transport Corridor are gradually paying off. All these have contributed to the growth in our countries and the development across the region.

Where has the time gone? It has gone into the closer links between the Chinese and Singaporeans. The deep emotional bond between our people acts as a strong driving force for people-to-people exchanges. It is estimated that over 3 million tourists from China visited Singapore in 2017, making China the top source of tourists for Singapore. On average, over 10,000 trips are made between China and Singapore every day. There are more than 700 flights between our two countries per week.

China’s internet economy and sharing economy are making headway in Singapore. Let me bring you some examples. Now we can use Alipay on Singapore’s taxis and Singaporeans can go online shopping on Tao Bao. The yellow and red bicycles for sharing can be seen across Singapore’s streets. Famous local brands such as Jumbo, Bee Cheng Hiang, Lim Chee Guan, Ng Ah Sio and Song Fa have opened their outlets in Beijing, Shanghai and many other Chinese cities, winning a lot of Chinese fans of Singapore’s Chili Crab, Bak Kwa and Bak Kut Teh.

As there is no time difference between our two countries, there is also no time difference in our exchanges and cooperation. China and Singapore are in the one-day living circle. Be it in China or in Singapore, we can always have a feeling of home.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 2017, we did not let the time pass in vain, and it has been a meaningful and productive year for China, for Singapore and for everyone of us.

In 2018, we will have a lot more work to do, as it boasts enormous opportunities for China and Singapore. 2018 is the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening-up and the inaugural year to implement the plans laid out by the 19th CPC Congress. China will follow the guidance of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and pursue peaceful development with win-win cooperation.

2018 is also the 40th anniversary of Mr. Deng Xiaoping’s visit to Singapore. Over the past four decades, Singapore has been deeply involved in China’s Reform and Opening-up, and China has benefited hugely from Singapore’s experience. The four-decade has been a journey of ever-growing understanding and cooperation between our two countries. The times may have changed and our development stages may have evolved, but our friendship as two close neighbours and our joint pursuit for a shared future stay the same. The journey we covered together gives us every reason to cherish our friendship, understanding, trust and support.

In 2018, China will focus on modernizing its economic system and winning three major battles, i.e. to forestall and defuse major risks, carry out targeted poverty alleviation and prevent and control pollution. Singapore will continue its economic upgrading, improving people’s welfare, maintaining social cohesion and promoting free trade. I trust these national priorities will create more synergies for our cooperation in economy and investment, connectivity, finance, innovation and social governance. And I have no doubt that our cooperation will boost the growth in both China and Singapore and make our people’s lives better.

As China enters into the new era, we will step up the reform and opening up drive and make our door widely open to the world. In November 2018, China will hold the inaugural International Import Expo in Shanghai. It will be world’s first Expo dedicated to imports and it will be a major step taken by China to support free trade and investment, upgrade its opening-up policy, advance the Belt and Road initiative and further open up its market. We warmly welcome Singapore’s political and business leaders as well as local enterprises and purchasing agents to attend the Expo and work with us to further expand the Chinese market and enhance our cooperation across the world.

In 2018, Singapore takes over the chairmanship of ASEAN and will maintain as country coordinator for China-ASEAN dialogue relations for the first half of 2018. China is ready to give its full support to Singapore’s work under these titles. Besides, we will continue to resolutely support the construction of the ASEAN Community, support its unity and central position in regional cooperation, and back the ASEAN to play a greater role in international and regional affairs. We will work with ASEAN to further promote China-ASEAN relations and contribute to East Asia cooperation.

In 2018, we look forward to your valuable support for China-Singapore relations and for the work of the Chinese Embassy in Singapore. As President Xi said, never forget why you started, and you can accomplish your mission. Let’s work together, progress together and bring China-Singapore relations to even greater heights in the new era.

As the festival of happiness and blessing is around the corner, let me invite you to raise your glass and join me in a toast:

To the continued prosperity of China and Singapore!

To the brighter future of China-Singapore relations!

To the health, success and happiness of all our guests!

Cheers, and happy Year of the Dog!

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