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Remarks at the Spring Festival Celebration Dinner

By H.E. Chen Xiaodong

Chinese Ambassador to Singapore

26 January, 2016

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for attending our Chinese New Year Celebration Dinner and join with us to welcome the year of the Monkey. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, let me extend sincere greetings to all of you. Happy Chinese New Year!

In the Chinese culture, monkey is a sign of smartness and good luck. The monkey of 2016 is said to be a fiery monkey, blessed with the power of fire. This fiery monkey, for sure, will bring even greater prosperity to all of us.

Talking about monkeys, the first thing that comes to mind is the Monkey King, or “Da Sheng” Buddha, as it is known among the Chinese in Singapore. Da Sheng has many magical powers, including going hundreds of thousands of miles with just one jump. I do hope that Singapore, China and our relations will all move forward as fast as Da Sheng in this auspicious year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2015, or the Year of the Sheep, has been another year of solid progress for China, thanks to the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary and the hard work of the Chinese people.

The Chinese economy has entered the new normal, and its trajectory has drawn attentions worldwide. In the process of transforming the growth model and making structural adjustments, we have achieved a stable performance while at the same time securing progress.

In 2015, the Chinese economy grew by 6.9%, with an increase of 500 billion US dollars. Put it into perspectives, the increase per se accounts for more than 30% of global growth and is equivalent to the GDP of Switzerland in 2015. It is estimated as the largest increase across the world.

Moreover, the quality and efficiency of the Chinese economic growth has also improved notably. Compared with 2014, the consumption contributed 15.4% more to the overall growth. High-tech industries grew by 10.2%. And 13 million new jobs were created in the urban areas, far exceeding our original target. Also in the 2015, China has invested 127.6 billion US dollars internationally, with a year-on-year growth of 10%.

For China, 2016 will be the first year to implement the 13th five year plan. It will also mark the final stage of the building of a moderately prosperous society.

We will advance the new model of innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development, and deepen comprehensive reforms. We will enhance the supply-side structural reform, and lift all of our poor, 70 million rural population, out of poverty by 2020.

We will steadfastly advance the reforms on financial regulation system. We will steadily achieve the convertibility of the RMB under capital account, promote sound growth of the off-shore RMB markets and keep the RMB exchange rate basically stable at an appropriate and balanced level. We will also speed up the Belt and Road Initiative and make full use of the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to promote inclusive growth and greater economic integration in the Asia-Pacific.

Despite its progress, the Chinese economy also faces new problems and challenges. It is still grappling with the throes of deep reforms. The opportunities are unprecedented, but so are the challenges.

However, China's positive economic fundamentals and long-term trajectory remain unchanged. What also remain unchanged are the basic fact that China's economy possesses strong resilience, great potential and ample room for maneuver; the strong support and conditions favorable for continued growth; and the forward movement of the country's economic restructuring and upgrading. We have good reasons to remain confident about its prospects.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2015 has a special place in the history of China-Singapore relations.

In 2015, President Xi Jinping and President Tony Tan exchanged historic state visits in just four months. They agreed to set up the “All-round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times”, unveiling a new chapter of our relations.

In 2015, China’s investment in Singapore almost tripled, and our two-way trade, despite a gloomy global economy, maintained the level a year earlier, which means that we are more important to each other in terms of trade.

In 2015, more than 10 thousand people traveled between China and Singapore every day. And the number of Chinese tourists in Singapore in 2015 is estimated to exceed 2 million.

2016 is the 40th anniversary of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s first visit to China. It is also the first year for carrying out the agreements reached during President Xi’s state visit.

At the top level, there will be quite a few occasions for our leaders to meet, so as to ensure that our relations progress with the times.

As to the practical cooperation, our third Government-to-Government project has been officially launched. This will raise our cooperation on major projects onto a new level. The China-Singapore FTA Upgrade negotiations have been kicked off, and both sides are committed to concluding the deal within this year.

On the cultural front, we are seeing more vibrant people-to-people exchanges. In particular, during the Spring Festival season, many Chinese art troupes will stage performances in Singapore during the signature events like Spring in the City and River Hongbao. And our higher education exchanges are also gaining greater momentum. The universities in Singapore will continue to be the first choices for Chinese students that wish to study abroad.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Spring Festival is the most important time of the year for the Chinese people.

This will also be my first Spring Festival in Singapore. I’m glad to say that the atmosphere here is no less warm and festive than that in China.

About 10 days ago, President Tony Tan attended the annual Light-up of Chinatown and kicked off the festivities. Since then, streets have been lit with lanterns and decorated with traditional Chinese artifacts, immersing this great city in a remarkable Spring Festival aura.

Now I would like to propose a toast:

May all of our guests enjoy happiness and good fortune in the New Year!

May China-Singapore relations continue to grow strongly in the year of the Monkey!

Cheers!

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