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Remarks by Ambassador WU Xi at the Opening Ceremony of the Photo Exhibition of "A Glorious Journey"

Distinguished guests,dear friends,

Ladies, gentlemen,

Let me begin by offering my warmest welcome to you all as we celebrate the opening of this fabulous photo exhibition “A Glorious Journey”, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

I would like to thank the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, the New Zealand China Friendship Society, the Home Voice Chinese Newspaper and my colleagues from the Chinese Embassy for their support and the hard work that has made this exhibition possible.

I would also like to express our heartfelt appreciation to the four New Zealand photographers whose remarkable images make up this exhibition: Tom Hutchins, Geoff Steven, Simon Holye and David J. Smith. Let's give them a big round of applause.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. We Chinese are very proud of what we have achieved over those seven decades. But before we look back at this journey through the historical lens, I would like to show you a photo taken just a few weeks ago.

This is Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting the former home of Rewi Alley at Shandan Peili School in Gansu Province, China.

Shandan Peili School is one of many vocational schools across China established by Rewi Alley at a time when China was taking its first steps into the modern world.

Rewi Alley’s educational philosophy was enormously influential on the modernization of China. The Kiwi way of thinking he taught us was to use the hands and the brain in combination to create and analyze. It is still just as relevant today as it was in the 1950s.

Rewi Ally was one of the few Western people who not only witnessed but contributed to the transformation of China from a chaotic war-torn country in turmoil, into the unified country we see today that has raised the living standards of so many million people.

Ever since the Opium Wars of the mid Nineteenth Century, China was repeatedly invaded and exploited. Whichever country was powerful in Europe or Asia, took what they could from China. We call that chapter of Chinese history our “century of humiliation and sorrow”.

70 years ago, our century of humiliation ended when Chairman Mao Zedong solemnly declared to the world the founding of the People's Republic of China. At that moment, a new chapter began in the 5,000 year history of Chinese civilization.

70 years on, China has gone through a historic transformation. China has risen from a poor and backward state to become the world's second largest economy. The world has called it the Chinese economic miracle. Our standard of living has advanced and we have emerged from a life of poverty to one of moderate prosperity.

Over the past four decades we have lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty. That is 70% of all the people in the world who have been lifted out of poverty during the same period. We have made remarkable progress in areas such as education, health and empowerment of women. From 1949 to 2018, China’s per capita gross national income increased 135 times, from roughly $70 to $9,470. Today China is the world’s second largest economy, the largest industrial producer and the largest trader of goods. The combined forces of Chinese manufacturing, Chinese innovation, and Chinese construction, have transformed the face of our country.

Through this photo exhibition I hope you will see the story of China transforming from an impoverished country, far behind the rest of the world, into a prosperous country with its door open to the world.

The People’s Republic was founded 70 years ago, and 40 years ago we underwent another historical journey,reform and opening-up.It began with rural reform and gradually went deeper into every other area of our society - the economic, political, cultural, and social spheres. We forged the Socialism with Chinese Characteristic around the energy and enterprise of the Chinese people and our unique cultural heritage. Today we thrive with vigor and vitality.

We have achieved many technological triumphs. From the launch of our first earth satellite in the late 1970s, to the recent success of our Chang'e Lunar Satellite, the Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover, the Tiangong Space Lab and the Beidou Satellite Navigation System. China is now one of the most advanced technological countries in the world.

China's development has not only improved the well-being of 1.3 billion Chinese people, but it has also become an important force in the new world order. China is now a key anchor and driver of the world economy. We have driven over 30% of global economic growth in recent years.

China’s contribution to our era’s dynamic global economy is a lesson for the world: openness leads to progress for all nations; protectionism leaves nations behind.

Openness is the great historical movement of times. Doctrines of unilateralism and protectionism are attempts to fight the tide of history. History tells us you cannot fight the tide - the unilateralists and the protectionists will not be successful in the long run. They are most likely to be doomed to the footnotes of the history of our times.

As you look at this photo exhibition, I hope you will see China changing. From a weak and vulnerable country, over 70 years we have become a strong country that is moving closer to the center stage of world influence.

As an active player in international affairs, China is an advocate for world peace and development. Guided by President Xi Jinping’s approach, we have begun to develop diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. We want to make our own contributions to world peace and development.

Our goal is to develop mutually beneficial relationships with other countries. We think that world peace and lifting all nations into prosperity will be based on win-win relationships between equal nations.

The New Zealand – China relationship is an example of mutual benefit for the rest of the world. Over the past 47 years since our countries first established diplomatic ties, our relationship has become an example to the world.

Our friendship shows the world that differences in size, social system and cultural tradition need not necessarily stand in the way of growing deeper bilateral ties. So long as countries treat each other as equals, and view each other’s development as opportunities rather than challenges, they can always find common ground and transcend their differences.

Inspired by Rewi Alley’s heroic deeds, more and more people, including all of you here, are committed to promoting our friendship and strengthening our bilateral ties. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your long-term support and contributions to the development of China-Kiwi relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a Maori proverb says “Titiro Whakamuri, Kokiri Whakamua” – “look back and reflect so you can move forward”.

In this Photo Exhibition we look back at the achievements of the Chinese people over the past 70 years. We do this so we can move ahead with more confidence as we continue down the same road of progress.

I hope that these photos will deepen your understanding of China and its people. Let me wish the exhibition a great success.

Thank you.

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