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Remarks by Ambassador Hong Xiaoyong at the 2019 Spring Festival Gala Dinner

Your Excellency Lucien Wong Yuen Kuai, Attorney-General,
Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Member of Parliament,
Mr Ang Wei Neng, Member of Parliament,
Ms Tin Pei Ling, Member of Parliament,
Mr Terence Ho Wee San, Member of Parliament,
Your Excellency Kim Chol Nam, DPRK's Ambassador to Singapore,
Your Excellency Ahn Young-jip, ROK's Ambassador to Singapore,
Your Excellency Tao Thi Thanh Huong, Vietnam's Ambassador to Singapore,
Leaders of Civil Societies and Chambers of Commerce,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to have so many friends here for the 2019 Spring Festival Gala Dinner of the Chinese Embassy to celebrate the Spring Festival. We have a galaxy of guests today from Singapore's political, business, press, education, culture, science, and technology sectors, the armed forces, and other walks of life. We also have representatives from the Malay and Indian communities who are attending this event for the first time, and the Ambassadors of DPRK, ROK, and Vietnam-countries that share the same Spring Festival traditions with China and Singapore. Chinese compatriots who work and study in Singapore are also present here. Let me extend my warm welcome to all of you!

The Spring Festival is China's most important traditional festival. Spring ploughing sows hope and reunion prays for happiness. This tradition has lasted for thousands of years. Many people, no matter where they are, will go home before the Festival and enjoy a reunion dinner with their families. The "Spring Festival Mass Migration" has become a unique phenomenon in Chinese society. For instance, it is estimated that 2.99 billion trips will be made in China during the festival this year. Such a large-scale migration is not only an inheritance of history and culture, but also a reflection of rapid economic development and social harmony.

The Spring Festival culture originated in China, and has spread around the world. In some Asian countries, the Spring Festival is a grand festival, and many countries have also designated it a statutory holiday. Singapore's Spring Festival culture is unique, in that it not only preserves the traditional elements of the Spring Festival, but continues to evolve. Together with the Malay culture and Indian culture, it has become an important part of Singapore's multiculturalism. When celebrating the Spring Festival in Singapore, we will not only find things we are familiar with, but also enjoy many new experiences.

In recent years, the Chinese Embassy has hosted such a gathering before every Spring Festival. We hope that through this event, we will have better interactions and closer friendships with all segments of Singaporean society. This also gives us an opportunity to thank you for your support for China-Singapore relations and the work of the Embassy over the past year and bless the new year together with you.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the past year, we witnessed many changes in this world and shared the joy of new achievements in China-Singapore relations. In facing complex changes in the international situation, China will unswervingly follow its own path. 40 years of reform and opening up have proven that this is the path that best suits China's national conditions.

A month ago, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up. He envisaged the prospect of deepening reform and opening up in China, and demonstrated China's determination to achieve these goals. Since last year, China has introduced many major initiatives to expand reforms. For instance, the Central Economic Work Conference in December rolled out a number of important reform plans. Not long ago, China published the "Negative List of Market Access (2018 Edition)", and the National People's Congress is about to introduce the "Foreign Investment Law" to better protect foreign businessmen. The second "Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation" will be held in Beijing in April this year, and the second China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai in the second half of the year. This series of important measures will raise China's reform and opening up to an even higher level.

The Chinese economy is facing a complex external environment and tough tasks from domestic reform as it transitions to high-quality development. Equipped with a sober understanding of this environment, we are confident that we can manage these complex situations and difficulties. Thanks to 40 years of reform and opening up, China's economy has achieved tremendous momentum. The internal development momentum of the economy keeps increasing. Our advantage in human resources is prominent and the number of middle-income groups is expanding. We have many macro-regulation measures and policies in the toolbox. The economy is resilient and full of potential. China is fully capable of addressing diverse risks and challenges, and will keep the economy on the trajectory of steady development.

Compared with 40 years ago, the environment and conditions for China's reform and opening up have changed, but the goal remains unchanged. China will deliver the good life our people aspire to while continuing to promote cooperation with the rest of the world.

In the past, reform and opening up have received wide support from the international community. In the future, we will still need the active participation and cooperation of all countries. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew led Singapore to participate extensively in China's reform and opening up with an extraordinary strategic vision, and the Chinese government awarded the "China Reform Friendship Medal" to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, which reflects our high esteem for him. I also would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all sectors of Singapore for your support of and participation in China's reform and opening up.

During President Xi Jinping's visit to Singapore in 2015, the two sides established an "All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times". We had closer cooperation in various fields and frequent high-level exchanges between our two countries in the past year, especially the exchange of visits between Chinese Premier and Singaporean Prime Minister, which has raised China-Singapore cooperation under the framework of the "Belt and Road Initiative" to a higher level and higher quality. In 2018, there are many highlights. In 2019, we will redouble our efforts. We believe that these will continue to deliver benefits to our two countries and our people.

Every year when we celebrate the Spring Festival, our concern for the 23 million compatriots in Taiwan grow stronger. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech that comprehensively expounded on the major policies and positions for China's peaceful reunification. The speech pointed out the direction for the future development of cross-strait relations in the new era. The Chinese government and people will unswervingly work towards this direction and strive for the great cause of national reunification.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The year 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 200th anniversary of Stamford Raffles' landing in Singapore. These render this year extraordinary. Let us continue to work together to raise China and Singapore's "All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times" to a new high.

Now I propose a toast for the prosperity of China and Singapore, the well-being of the people, and for your health, wealth, and happiness.


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