Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Zhang Limin at the Reception Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the PRC
The Honourable Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
The Honourable Pansy Wong, Minister of Ethnic Affairs,
Excellencies members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I feel very much honored to have so many friends here this evening celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. On behalf of the Embassy and also in the name of my wife and myself, I wish to extend our warm welcome and festive greetings to all of you.
Six decades ago, the founding of the PRC ushered in a new epoch in the Chinese history. Over the years, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups have made concerted efforts and brought into full play their wisdom and creativeness in rejuvenating their beloved motherland. Thanks to the policy of reform and opening up to the outside world followed in the last 30 years and more, China has now embarked on the fast track of development and changed from a highly centralized planned economy to a market economy with socialist characteristics. Tremendous progress has been made in every field, witnessing earth-shaking economic growth, ever-increasing overall national strength, world-acclaimed achievements and wonders. It has developed from a once poor and backward country to the 3rd largest economy in the world. Its state revenue has increased 1000 times.its foreign reserve has increased more than 10,000 times amounting to some US$ 2 trillion, ranking first in the world. The average personal savings of its people have also increased some 10,000 times, while income of the urban residents has increased about 150 times and that for the rural residents over 100 times. Last year, the import and export of my country totaled US$ 2.56 trillion, making it the third largest trading economy in the world. China's GDP has risen 440 times since records began and now reached some 30 trillion RMB or about US$ 4.4 trillion. Last year, it contributed 22% to the global economy, ranking first in the world. We have successfully solved the problem of feeding and clothing a population of 1.3 billion. The rural poverty-stricken population has been reduced from over 250 million to some 10 million. People's life expectancy has risen from 35 years in 1949 to 73 years in 2005. The illiteracy rate has been reduced from 80% of the total population in the early days of the Republic to merely 6.67% at present. Now almost 100% of the school-age children have access to nine-year compulsory education. Last year, we showcased the 29th Beijing Olympics and successfully fulfilled the manned spacecraft mission. Based on the above-mentioned achievements, the development mode of socialism with Chinese characteristics is demonstrating its unique vigor and vitality, and the Chinese people are now marching forward with pride and confidence under the guidance of the scientific outlook on development put forward by the CPC Central Committee.
60 years is but a fleeting moment in human history. In the past six decades, China has witnessed great changes towards peace, stability and prosperity. A fast growing China will always stick to the road of peaceful development, and be ready to work with other countries to strive for a harmonious world with enduring peace and common prosperity.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is known to all that since last year no country, including China, has been able to stay immune from the international financial crisis. As a result, great pressure and shock has been imposed on the economic and social development of my country. In the face of this sudden disaster, the Chinese government lost no time in making swift and decisive adjustments to its macroeconomic, fiscal and monetary policies, putting in place a package plan with an investment of 4 trillion RMB, or about US$ 600 billion, so as to ensure a steady yet relatively fast economic growth. These efforts now have started to pay off and positive signs have appeared in our economy. China will continue to push forward the policy of liberalization on trade and investment and work more closely with other countries so as to combat the current international economic setback.
Ladies and gentlemen, the relationship between China and the rest of the world has undergone fundamental changes in the past 60 years. The number of countries having diplomatic relations with China has increased from 18 in the early days of the People's Republic to 171 at present. China has joined over 100 inter-governmental organizations, acceded to over 300 international conventions, participated in 22 UN peace keeping operations with a dispatch of over ten thousand relevant personnel. China has all along adhered to an independent foreign policy of peace, development and cooperation, playing an increasingly important role in international and regional affairs. It has now entered into new types of cooperative relations or constructive partnerships with most of the countries in the world. In this regard, the Sino-New Zealand relationship has set a good example for countries with different cultures, histories, values and political systems. In the past 37 years since our diplomatic ties were established, thanks to the joint efforts made by both countries and peoples, the bilateral relationship has seen an all-round and unceasing development, with frequent exchanges of high level visits and increasingly expanding cooperation of mutual benefits in such fields as economy, trade , culture, education, science and technology. PM John Key's visit to my country April this year is just a case in point and the well-known "four firsts" that we are all familiar with, may serve as another evidence. It is absolutely true that New Zealand is the first developed country to sign bilateral agreement on China's entry into WTO, the first developed country to recognize China's full market economy status, the first developed country to start and complete the bilateral FTA negotiations. Thanks to the FTA, by July 2009 New Zealand's export to China had increased 60.7% while import from China increased 10.7%, compared with the same period last year. The business volume between our two countries last year topped 9 billion New Zealand dollars, with an increase of over 19% despite the international economic setback. China has now become New Zealand's 2nd largest trading partner, 2nd largest source of imports and 3rd largest export market. Over 30,000 Chinese young people are now studying here, making China New Zealand's largest source of overseas students. China is also the 4th largest source of overseas tourists for New Zealand. Some 112,000 Chinese citizens visited this country last year. Just as Prime Minister John Key pointed out in his recent message to the Embassy for the 2009 Chinese Film Festival: "Premier Wen Jiabao said he thought the relationship between our two countries had never been better, and I agree."
As the Chinese Ambassador, I am fully convinced that our bilateral relations will be further developed and strengthened in the years to come. Now please raise our glasses and drink a toast:To Her Majesty Elizabeth Ⅱ, Queen of New Zealand , and the people of New Zealand.