LONDON, Feb. 2 -- The increasing popularity of Chinese New Year celebrations outside China underscores an expanding international recognition of the Chinese culture and showcases the progress of China's soft power, Chinese ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming said here Sunday.
"Culture represents a kind of soft power and the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations here help deepen the mutual understanding and recognition between the Chinese people and the foreigners," Liu told Xinhua on the sidelines of a massive cultural display in central London to mark the annual Chinese Spring Festival.
For 14 consecutive years, London's landmark Trafalgar Square has hosted one of the biggest Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Europe every year, with the last year alone witnessing nearly half a million international visitors to the event.
"Chinese culture is gaining increasing acceptance overseas, which in itself attests to China's progress with a burgeoning foreign appetite to know more about China," the ambassador said.
The envoy noted the influence of the Chinese Spring Festival has reached beyond China and Chinatowns and become a common festival of both Chinese and British people.
"From London to Edinburgh, from Cardiff to Belfast, streets have been lit with lanterns and fireworks. House entrances have been decorated with Chun Lian (Chinese couplets)," Liu said while addressing a jubilant crowd of international visitors on Trafalgar Square.
According to the Chinese envoy, the evolution of Chinese New Year celebrations in Britain reflects the "deepening of China-UK cultural links," with the two sides exchanging nearly 100 cultural projects every year.
"China's relations with other countries are by no means limited to exporting T-shirts or importing automobiles; cultural exchanges are playing a vital part too," the envoy stressed.
"The immense popularity of the Chinese New Year in Britain also mirrors the dynamic growth of China-UK relations," Liu added, referring to a thawing relationship between the two countries bolstered recently by a string of high-level visits.
Last year, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, London mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minster David Cameron visited China in October and December respectively, with a wide array of trade and investment deals sealed between the two sides.
Victoria Borwick, Deputy Mayor of London, echoed the Chinese ambassador's remarks by saying that "happy friendship leads to successful business."
"We have a great cultural tradition here in Britain, but also you have a great cultural tradition in China..the opportunity of the two coming together is a way of increasing the friendship between the two countries, and that of course leads to business," Borwick told Xinhua.