Ambassador Zhou Haicheng's Speech at 2020 Chinese New Year Reception
2020/01/19

Honorable Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Madam Salwai,

Honorable Minister Ralph Regenvanu,

Honorable Minister Jean Pierre Nirua,

Your Excellencies and Heads of Diplomatic Missions,

Honorable Members of Parliament, Provincial Presidents and Lord Mayors,

Representatives of the Chinese Community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

     Good evening!

     Warmest welcome to our Chinese New Year Reception. For Chinese,Spring Festival is the most important traditional festival, symbolizing reunion, happiness and hope. At this auspicious and joyful moment, I would like to extend my best wishes to all distinguished guests and friends present,and through you, to all Ni-Van people and overseas Chinese in Vanuatu.

     2019 was an important year for China's development. The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core led the whole country to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. A more united, stable and prosperous China proudly embarked on a new journey toward brighter prospects. Thanks to our steady pursuit of high-quality development, China's GDP was over 14 trillion US dollars while the per capita figure was over 10,000 US dollars. More than 10 million people were lifted out of poverty. Our lunar probe Chang'e-4, for the first time in human history, landed on the far side of the moon; the Long March-5 Y3 rocket was successfully launched; the Xuelong 2 icebreaker set sail on its maiden voyage to the Antarctic; the construction of the global network of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System was sprinting towards the finish line; and the commercial application of 5G technology was accelerating. All these achievements were the result of the efforts and sweat of those who strived in the new era, and they demonstrated extraordinary Chinese splendor and Chinese strength.

     In 2019, China, weathering rain and storm, forged ahead on the diplomatic front. We stayed committed to multilateralism and championed equity and justice. We steadily developed relations with other major countries, and vigorously advanced mutually beneficial cooperation with neighboring and developing countries. We spearheaded global governance and actively mediated various regional issues. We continued to adhere to the principle of mutually beneficial cooperation, and successfully held the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), and the second China International Import Expo (CIIE), showcasing an open and inclusive China to the rest of the world. On the complex international stage, China has become a true pillar of world peace and stability and a major engine for global development and prosperity.

     The year 2020 will be a key milestone in the course of China’s national rejuvenation. We will complete the 13th Five Year Plan, eliminate absolute poverty, and realize a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. We will achieve the first centenary goal, and on that basis, start a new journey toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in an all-round way. China will continue to open its arms wide to embrace the world. We will host the third CIIE and a series of other international events. China is determined to walk along the road of peaceful development and will resolutely safeguard world peace and promote common development. We are willing to join hands with people of all countries in the world to build together the Belt and Road Initiative, push forward the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and make unremitting efforts for the creation of a beautiful future for humanity.

     Ladies and Gentlemen,

     2019 was an extraordinary year for the China-Vanuatu relationship. Both sides worked to promote the China-Vanuatu comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development and achieved fruitful outcomes.

     In terms of high-level official exchanges,Hon. Prime Minister Charlot Salwai paid a successful official visit to China. Hon. Charlot Salwai, Hon. Ralph Regenvanu and other Vanuatu cabinet ministers attended major international meetings hosted by China, including the third China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum, the second CIIE, the second BRF, and the Ninth Beijing Xiangshan Forum. Han Changfu, Chinese Minister of Agriculture and Rural areas, Hu Guanghui, Member and Secretary General of the Standing Committee of the CPC Hainan Provincial Committee and Zhou Liujun, Vice Chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, successfully visited Vanuatu. In terms of practical cooperation, the two countries signed a cooperation plan on jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative and other important documents in the areas of consular services,fisheries, infrastructure, civil aviation, investment and production capacity, and e-commerce which would facilitate communication and enhance cooperation between China and Vanuatu. Vanuatu products were favored by Chinese customers in the second CIIE. Two Vanuatu companies signed letters of intent with their Chinese partners. Phase I of Tanna and Malekula Road Rehabilitation and Construction Project, funded by China, was handed over and Phase II is progressing smoothly. Sino-Van Fisheries Project started operation officially. The construction of the State House, and the office buildings of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance is about to begin. Our two governments have exchanged letters on the Pentcost Road and Wharf Project, which is now being designed. New doctors of the Chinese resident medical teams arrived in Vanuatu to replace the previous group. In terms of sub-national interactions, letters of intent on the establishment of sisterhood relations were signed between Hainan Province and Sanma province and Malampa province respectively, and between Zhuhai Wanshan Marine Development Zone, Sanya City and Luganville City respectively. They have engaged in discussions over agricultural and fishery cooperation. Guangdong Province and Foshan City sent three groups of medical experts to provide free medical services to Ni-Vanuatu. In terms of people to people exchanges, Chinese visitations to Vanuatu amounted to over 9000. Vanuatu women leaders and journalists visited China. Twenty-three Ni-Van students were granted Chinese government scholarships to pursue degrees in Chinese universities. About 300 Ni-Van friends participated in various kinds of training organized by the Chinese side. Mandarin was designated as the first foreign language to be taught in Vanuatu schools.

     The China-Vanuatu relationship is at its best time in history and has been a model for relations between China and Pacific island countries. The above achievements are attributed to the joint efforts of China and Vanuatu. I wish to express my sincere appreciation to all Ni-Van friends for their strong support for China-Vanuatu relations over the past year. The development of China-Vanuatu relations is also inseparable from the hard work of all overseas Chinese in Vanuatu,including staff of Chinese companies,doctors of Chinese medical teams and Chinese teachers. You have not only made great contributions to the economic and social development of Vanuatu, but also served as an important bridge between our two peoples. I sincerely hope that our Chinese compatriots in Vanuatu will remain united closely as one and make more endeavors to achieve the Chinese Dream of the great Chinese national rejuvenation and to promote China-Vanuatu friendship.

     This year, Vanuatu will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its independence, host the Pacific Islands Forum and graduate from the UN list of least developed countries. As a good friend, partner and brother,China stands ready to provide assistance and support to Vanuatu within its means as the country enters a new era of development. China is willing to work with Vanuatu to further consolidate and deepen our bilateral relations, and bring more tangible benefits to our two peoples.

     May the friendship between China and Vanuatu last forever!

     Wish all of you good luck, happiness and prosperity in the year of the Rat!

     Thank you!

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