The 48 Group Club Chinese New Year Dinner to celebrate the Year of the Red Monkey

Monday 25 January 2016 – The Dorchester, Park Lane, London

The 48 Group Club held its annual Chinese New Year Dinner, celebrating the Year of the Monkey, in the Ballroom of London’s Dorchester Hotel on the evening of Monday 25 January 2016, in association with the Bank of China, Huawei Technologies UK and KPMG. It was attended by a capacity crowd of some 500 people, representing the key movers and shakers in Sino-British relations.

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The formal part of the evening began with Stephen Hinds from the Bank of China emphasising some of the values attributed to those born in the Year of the Monkey: self-assured, clever, creative and successful.

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Stephen Ball, senior partner at KPMG, then announced the winners of the 48 Group Club and KPMG China Business Awards for 2016, which were presented by His Excellency Ambassador Liu Xiaoming:

– Whitbread plc received the Award for British investment in China. It was accepted by Chairman of Costa China, Simon Barratt.

– AVIC International received the Award for Chinese investment into the UK. It was accepted by AVIC Chairman Wu Guangquan.

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Guests then enjoyed dinner, concluded with the Loyal Toast and a toast to the President of China, led by Mr Na Wei from the London office of Air China. This was followed by the prize draw kindly provided by Cathay Pacific and Shangri-La Hotels.

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In after dinner speeches, James Chen of Huawei Technologies (UK) spoke of 2015 being a significant year in Sino-British relations. He referred to the new ‘golden era’ in Sino-British relations, citing Huawei’s expansion in the UK as an example. Mr Chen stated that over the last three years, Huawei’s contribution to UK GDP was estimated to be £956 million. In 2016, Huawei will celebrate 15 years of their operations in the UK, which demonstrates their long-term commitment.

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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming began his speech by reading out a message of congratulations from Mr Meng Jianzhu, Secretary of the Political and Judiciary Commission under the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee and member of the CPC Central Committee’s Political Bureau. The warm message highlighted the 48 Group Club’s role in developing relations between our two countries over more than 60 years.

Ambassador Liu then delivered his own remarks, full of wisdom and good humour. He looked back at his six years of attending the 48 Group Club’s Chinese New Year and remarked that the themes kept evolving. He observed that, “many of today’s realities were hardly imaginable back then”.

Ambassador Liu went on to discuss the key development concepts outlined in the 13th Five Year Plan, to be formally adopted shortly: Innovation, Balanced Growth, Green Economy, Opening-Up and Inclusive Development.

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Ambassador Liu closed by saying:

“The fiery sun is always regarded as a sign of vigour and prosperity. So the folklore has it that this is the year of the vigorous red monkey. It carries people’s best wishes for red-hot prosperity and vigorous progress. With this, I wish every one of you a happy and prosperous Year of the Monkey!”

You can find his full speech here

Lord O’Neill, Commercial Secretary to HM Treasury, was then invited to give his speech. The long-time friend of the 48 Group Club, who famously coined the term BRICs to designate the emerging world’s fast-growing economies, described the contemporary bilateral relationship as one of “enlightened self-interest” for both countries. China, he stated, has embarked on a path of transition, while the UK has all the attributes to help it achieve its goals.

He put China’s 6.9% growth in 2015 into a global perspective: For the UK to have a comparable impact on the global economy, it would have to record 22.5% GDP growth. India, meanwhile, would require 34.5% growth. China’s present average of 8.2% means it is the only one of the BRICs to have grown more in this decade than he had assumed in 2010. Further, if China grew by “only” 6.3% for the next four years, it would average 7.5% for the entire decade.

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Lord O’Neill finished by pointing out that the way in which China’s GDP is changing is more significant than the GDP growth rate itself. In particular, the rise of the service sector and of consumer spending is in China’s long term interest, along with the short, medium and long-term interest of the UK. He supported his point with reference to collaboration between our nations in such projects as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, One Belt One Road and the Northern Powerhouse.

Following Lord O’Neill’s speech, Jodie Perry was invited to the stage to present a donation of £5000 to the Chinese Welfare Trust. This was accepted by Mei Sim Lai, on behalf of the trustees.

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Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, rounded off the speeches by thanking everyone for their presence and speaking of the six years he has known Ambassador Liu Xiaoming.

He stated that during this time we have seen an enormous transformation in Sino-British relations. President Xi Jinping’s state visit in 2015 was beyond anything the original icebreakers could have imagined.

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Stephen then presented Ambassador Liu with a lifetime award for his special contribution to Sino-British relations. After a kind acceptance speech by the Ambassador, Stephen thanked Lord O’Neill for his speech and expressed his appreciation to the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCC UK) for their support and looked forward to a deeper relationship in the future.

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He then invited Baroness Elspeth Howe to the stage and paid a special tribute to the late Lord Howe, who last year had received the lifetime award. He recalled a former Chinese Ambassador’s confusion, during the celebration of the Year of the Sheep, at Lord Howe receiving one, when it was not his year. Stephen then recalled Lord Howe writing to him after the event, expressing his gratitude and describing how amusing it was for him to be sitting on the tube going home carrying a sheep.

In his words: “Geoffrey Howe was one of the people. He was an ordinary person like everyone else and a wonderful man.”

Stephen also thanked our main sponsors, Bank of China, Huawei Technologies UK and KPMG for their continued support and generosity, as well as sponsors Accenture, the Global Group and Cathay Pacific and also thanked Cathay Pacific and Shangri-La Hotels for donating the raffle prizes.

Finally all those born in the Year of the Monkey were presented with a gift

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