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Ambassador Wu Xi attends the 2019 Chinese New Year celebrations held by New Zealand Parliament

On the evening of February 13, 2018, Ambassador Wu Xi was invited to attend the 2019 Chinese New Year celebrations held by the New Zealand Parliament and delivered a speech. Nearly 300 people attended the event, including the Rt Hon Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters, Minister for Ethnic Communities Hon Jenny Salesa, Minster of Tourism Hon Kelvin Davis, Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson, Minister of Justice Hon Andrew Little, Minster of Internal Affairs Hon Tracey Martin, Minister for Regional Economic Development Hon Shane Jones, MPs, members of diplomatic Corps and representatives from the overseas Chinese community.

In her speech, Ambassador Wu expressed her gratitude to the New Zealand Government for its efforts in organising the event and extended her New Year greetings to the guests present and to the local Chinese community. Ambassador Wu noted that since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1972, great progress has been made in bilateral relations. The two countries enjoy a long list of 'firsts' in China's relations with developed countries, bringing tangible benefits for both our peoples. At present, the world is experiencing profound and complex changes with unilateralism and protectionism further developed. The international system came under serious strain but peace and development remain the dominant theme of the time. No matter how the international situation evolves, what remains unchanged is the mutually beneficial nature of the cooperation between China and New Zealand. Ambassador Wu said 'Our economies are highly complementary and our peoples bear friendly feelings toward each other. We share common responsibility for maintaining global and regional peace and prosperity. We have common interests in safeguarding the international order underpinned by multilateralism and free trade. While celebrating the achievements we have made in the past, it is also important for us to look ahead and work together for even greater success. We are now at an important point of building our relationship upon the past and forging ahead into the future'.

Ambassador Wu noted that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. China will continue to carry out reform, promote opening-up, advance international cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, upgrade an open world economy, and work for a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, equity, justice and win-win cooperation. China's development will provide more opportunities for New Zealand and create broader space for bilateral cooperation. China remains committed to expanding mutually beneficial cooperation and strengthening bilateral relations with New Zealand on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Ambassador Wu is confident that the New Zealand coalition government will carry on the vision and spirit of the successive governments, seize the opportunities in history, strengthen practical cooperation and properly handle the differences between the two countries to further advance bilateral relations.

The celebration of the Chinese New Year was hosted by the Labour Party MP Raymond Huo. Minister Jenny Salesa delivered a welcome speech on behalf of the organisers and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters delivered a speech on behalf of the New Zealand Government. A video message from New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern was played at the event. In her video message, Prime Minster Ardern extended her Spring Festival greetings to the overseas Chinese in New Zealand, noting that the Chinese community has made great contributions to New Zealand's development. The Chinese New Year celebration has become an important component of New Zealand's multicultural environment.

In his speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Peters extended his New Year greetings in Mandarin and expressed his gratitude to Chinese New Zealanders for their contribution to the development of New Zealand. Mr Peters noted that Chinese New Zealanders work hard for the prosperity of their families and communities and are an integral part of New Zealand society. China is an increasingly important regional and global actor, and it matters to New Zealand. The two countries have established close political, economic and cultural ties and enjoy a deep friendship. China is New Zealand's largest trading partner, and the number of Chinese tourists and students coming to New Zealand continues to grow each year. New Zealand and China have different histories and cultural and political systems, and it is inevitable that the two countries will have differences on some issues. However, we still enjoy a long-term excellent relationship and broad common interests and goals. New Zealand acknowledges the differences and would like to strengthen cooperation with China in tackling challenges including climate change and maintaining a free trade system, for the mutual benefit of both countries.

Richard Leung, National President of the New Zealand Chinese Association noted in his speech that New Zealand Chinese have made unique and fundamental contributions to New Zealand's economic and social development. The New Zealand Chinese Association will continue to work to promote the development of China-New Zealand relations and deepen friendship between the two peoples.

That night, the Parliament Buildings were illuminated in celebration of the Spring Festival. The celebration kicked off with traditional Chinese lion dance performances with lively gongs and drums. The New Zealand Chinese Community presented wonderful performances for the guests, showcasing the integration of Chinese traditional culture and New Zealand native culture. It was a festive and exciting event.

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