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To Create a New Splendid Future of China-Fiji Relationship--Speech by Ambassador Zhang Ping at the Symposium commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Ties between China and Fiji

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,

Good afternoon! It gives me great pleasure to attend this Symposium co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy and the Fijian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Fiji and share with you my thoughts on China-Fiji relationship.

Just now, Honorable Prime Minister Bainimarama delivered a key note speech on China-Fiji relations, in which the Honorable Prime Minister spoke highly of this relationship, and reiterate the Fijian Government's commitment to a closer cooperative partnership between our two countries . I am deeply encouraged by his remarks.

40 years ago, China and Fiji signed the joint communiqué for establishing full diplomatic relationship between the two countries, which opened a new chapter in the history of China-Fiji relations. Today, 40 years after, as we look back the journey the bilateral relationship has gone through, we find with great joy that the China–Fiji relations have become more mature and more substantive, gaining more popular support among the general public of our two countries.

Over the past 40 years, we have witnessed the increasingly close political relationship and frequent high level exchanges. More than 50 high-level visits have taken place between our two sides. President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Bainimarama have so far met 4 times and paid successful visits to each other's countries over the last 12 months. With the increasingly deepening of political trust between our two countries, the bilateral relationship has been elevated to the level of the strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development, becoming an important component in each other's external relations. We have seen growing common interests between our two countries on issues relating to maintaining the world peace and development, safeguarding the interests of the developing countries and tackling the global challenges, such as climate change. We have maintained close cooperation and supported each other on the international arena.

Over the past 40 years, we have witnessed a fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation. The bilateral trade volume reached 340 million US dollars in 2014, a 150-fold increase as compared with 40 years ago. China has become Fiji's third-largest trading partner. Our practical cooperation in various fields further deepened. Over the years, we have made a number of donations, such as the automobiles, agricultural machineries, office equipments, chemical fertilizers, sewing machines. We have also successfully carried out a number of aid programs, concessional loan and technical assistance projects in Fiji, including the Navua Hospital, Nadarivatu hydropower station, Buca Bay road, transformation of rural power grid, low-cost housing and public rental housing projects, Vodafone Arena sports complex and mushroom growing and rice farming projects, covering almost every aspect of people's life and bringing tremendous benefits to the local communities. The China-aid Somosomo hydropower project which will be completed at the end of this year will provide new additional green energy to Taveuni Island. The rice farming will help to realize the goal of food self sufficiency, and the mushroom growing project will help to create a new food industry which is of great social and economic significance to this country.

Over the past 40 years, we have also witnessed more and more people-to-people exchanges and fruitful cultural, educational and health cooperation. The implementation of visa exemption arrangement has provided great convenience for personnel exchanges between China and Fiji. China has become one of fastest-growing source countries for Fiji's tourism industry. The first Confucius Institute in the South Pacific was established in Fiji. For years, China has continuously sent medical workers to Fiji to provide free medical services to the local people. Last year, the Chinese medical ship Peace Ark visited Fiji. Thousands of local patients received consultation and treatment by the doctors on the ship. At the time when our two countries suffered major natural disasters, we offered each other sympathy and support.

As we look back what the bilateral relations have experienced, we can find that, over the past 40 years, no matter how international situation changes, friendship, mutual trust, cooperation and development remain the main tunes of China-Fiji relations. No matter whether in good times or in bad times, China and Fiji always understand and support each other. China-Fiji relationship can be called a model of friendly cooperation between China and Island countries in the South Pacific.

At this moment, we really admire the old generation of Chinese and Fijian leaders for their great vision in making the strategic decision to establish the diplomatic relations. We are sincerely grateful to the generations of leaders of both countries for their leadership and guidance in developing the bilateral relations. We are also sincerely grateful to all those who have long been dedicated and contributed to the friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Fiji.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 40 years development of China-Fiji relations provides us with lots of valuable experience.

--China and Fiji friendship is based on the similar historical experiences, common development tasks and shared strategic interests. We both cherish national unity, independence and dignity, aspire for national development and prosperity. We all wish to seek fair, just and peaceful international order as well as a favorable and stable environment for development. We always see each other's development as an opportunity for ourselves, and seek common development through cooperation. This is an inexhaustible source of motivation for our sincere and friendly cooperation.

--Mutual respect and equality are the fundamental guarantee for the sustained development of China-Fiji relations. China always maintains that countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal members of the international community. China respects Fiji in choosing its own development path that suits its national conditions and supports Fiji in safeguarding its national dignity and pursuing economic development. A friend in need is a friend indeed. China stood steadfastly by the side of Fiji during its most difficult time. Meanwhile, the Fijian government has been firmly committed to One China Policy, and rendered valuable support to the Chinese side on issues concerning China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which we are very much appreciative.

--The fundamental starting point and ultimate goal of China-Fiji relations are to benefit the lives of the two peoples and achieve common development. Both being developing countries, China shares the same sentiments with Fiji with regard to the problems and difficulties along with the development. China is committed to seeking common development through mutually beneficial cooperation. We sincerely wish to help Fiji to achieve a faster and better development. Many China-aid projects in the infrastructure and people's livelihood are based on the actual needs of Fiji's social-economic development. They have brought tangible benefits to the Fijian people, receiving warm welcome and recognition by the local communities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peace and development are still the themes of our times. To strengthen the cooperative relations between China and Fiji not only conforms to the historical trend of our times, but also to the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples. China-Fiji relations are standing at a new historical starting point, facing good opportunities of further development. China's efforts in developing China-Fiji relations will only be strengthened not weakened, and the resources devoted for that course will only be increased, not lessened. We stand ready to work with the Fijian side to open up new horizons of friendly cooperation between China and Fiji.

--We should continue to uphold the principle of mutual respect and mutual trust. We should continue to build on the traditional friendship, and make joint efforts to implement important consensus reached by our two leaders on establishing and developing the strategic partnership of mutual respect and common development. We should continue to promote high-level exchanges, expand friendly contacts and exchanges between our two governments and political parties, so as to enhance mutual political trust, and further consolidate the foundation of our sound political relationship. China will remain a good friend and partner of Fiji and will as always firmly support Fiji's development along the path of its own independent choice, and support Fiji in participating in international affairs as equal member and in upholding its legitimate rights and interests. Meanwhile, we are confident that, Fiji will also continue to give us firm support on issues concerning China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

--We should continue to pursue the cooperation of mutual benefits and win-win results. China and Fiji differs a lot in our respective economic size, however, there is no lack of economic complementarities. How our future economic cooperation will develop depends on how we can give full play our respective advantages to achieve a win-win outcome. China is working closely with related countries to accelerate the implementation of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st – Century Maritime Silk Road initiative, also known as "the Belt and Road Initiative". Fiji is also working on its National Development Plan. The two sides should proceed from long-term interests and overall national development goals to find ways to integrate our development strategies, and to make better use of our respective advantages by exploring the potential to cultivate new growth points of cooperation in areas like infrastructure, agriculture, fishery and tourism. The Chinese side will continue to do what it can to provide assistance to help Fiji develop its economy and improve people's living standards. We encourage our Fijian partners to make full use of the concessional loans and infrastructure loans offered by the Chinese government to the South Pacific Island countries that have diplomatic ties with China.

--We should carry forward our traditional friendship to future generations. The two sides should make efforts to promote friendly exchanges in various fields including education, culture and health, to expand exchanges and cooperation between local governments, so as to further consolidate the social foundation of China-Fiji relations. Special attention should be placed on strengthening exchanges between young generations of both countries, to inject new impetus into China-Fiji relations, and enable our traditional friendship to pass on from generation to generation.

--We should continue to maintain close cooperation in international and regional affairs. Both being developing countries, China and Fiji share same or similar views on many international and regional issues. The Chinese side supports Fiji in playing a positive role in international and regional affairs. The two sides should further strengthen consultation and coordination on international and regional issues, maintain timely communication and close cooperation, to jointly safeguard the common interest of the two countries and the developing countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have accomplished a great deal over the past 40 years. As we look ahead, we need to double our efforts to achieve greater progress for our cooperation in the future. We have the full confidence that with the joint efforts of both our governments and peoples, China-Fiji relations will embrace a new splendid future.

Thank you! Vinaka Vakalevu!

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