Remarks by Consul General Xu Erwen at her Farewell Reception
(May 8, 2019, Cordis Hotel)
2019/05/10

Labor Party President Nigel Haworth,

Parliamentary Secretary Michael Wood,

Members of Parliament Raymond Huo, Tim Macindoe,

Hon. Mayor Phil Goff, Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore,

Hon Mayor John Carter,

Hon Sir Bob Harvey, Hon Sir Pita Sharples, Hon Tuariki Delamere,

Dear colleagues from Consular Corps,

My dear Chinese Compatriots,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Good evening!

Thank you so much for joining us tonight. At this very emotional moment, my thought is beyond words and I really hate to say good-bye to you all. For past 3 and a half years, I have been so fortunate and so blessed to have worked in Auckland NZ, the shining pearl in the South Pacific Ocean with its beautiful scenery, pleasant environment, friendly people and diverse culture. NZ plays a very important part in my lifetime and it is a place of fascination for me since my childhood. As you may all know, I have been sharing my childhood story with Mr. Rewi Alley, a great NZ friend of the Chinese people since the first day I arrived in NZ. Today, I’d like to share with you again. Mr Rewi Alley was the very first foreigner I had honor to meet when I was a little girl in my hometown Hunan, a remote province in southern part of China. One day a big nose grandpa came to my kindergarten and took lots of photos for me and my little friends. He stayed in my hometown for more than a week, played games with us and told us stories. That was in late 1960s when foreigners were hardly seen in China. So this was an experience none of us could forget easily. Later we got to know this highly respected big nose grandpa Rewi Alley was from a far-away country called NZ and he devoted his whole life to the establishment and construction of New China, to China NZ friendship and to China friendly relationship with the rest of the world. His spirit working for world peace, justice and development had a big impact on me and my later diplomatic career. Ever since then I had always dreamed if I could do something for Mr. Rewi Alley's home country NZ and its people. It was a huge personal honor to me to be appointed as the Chinese consul general to NZ which made my life dream come true. For past 3 and half years, my colleagues and I have been working tirelessly to promote the mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between our two countries and two peoples. Upon conclusion of my mission in NZ, I'd like to share with you a few reflections on our relations and some tangible results achieved from our hard work:

First of all, our friendship has more solid foundations. Our bilateral relations, which created many "firsts", have always been at the forefront among relations between China and Western countries, particularly after 2014 when President Xi Jinping’s state visit to NZ, the bilateral relationship has been upgraded to the comprehensive strategic partnership. The envious achievement has been made on the basis of equality, mutual trust and mutual benefit. Our good and sound bilateral relationship is not only in the fundamental interests of the two peoples and both countries, but also conducive to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the whole world.

Second, the high-level exchanges of visits play a significant role in strengthening our ties. During my term, I was privileged to have hosted hundreds of delegations of ministerial level or above from China, including that led by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Very recently NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Trade Minister David Parker and a well-represented large delegation led by Infrastructure NZ have concluded their fruitful visits respectively to China. I believe the frequent and comprehensive exchanges of visits by our visionary leaders and other delegations are essential to the vigorous growth of the bilateral relations.

Third, the pragmatic cooperation under BRI has yielded many fruitful results. I have seen a massive upsurge in the cooperation and connectivity of aviation, trade, tourism, cultural exchanges, education and many others.

A starting point for me since I became the consul general in Auckland has been the famous Chinese saying “if you want to prosper, first build road”. NZ will always be defined by its geographic isolation, so helping build great connectivity between NZ and China has been a defining goal and idea of my posting. The most convenient and efficient road between NZ ad China is clearly aviation and shipping, so I have put a huge amount of energy into strengthening air and maritime links between Auckland and major cities in China.

The results speak for themselves. The numbers of direct flights between major Chinese cities and Auckland has quadrupled over the last more than 3 years, reaching about 160 flights a week at peak times. According to Auckland airport authority, each flight can bring an average income of about 180 million NZ dollars a year and also create a lot of local job opportunities. Fresh milk from the Waikato can now be enjoyed by families in shanghai just 72 hours after milking. Other products like fresh beef, mutton, seafood, fruits and more can easily be exported to China’s booming consumer markets. On the basis of the ever-growing aviation connectivity between China and NZ, it is even possible for NZ to be developed into an international aviation hub linking China and East Asia to South America and pacific in the future and make NZ the center of the world. Meanwhile, the shipping capacity between our two countries has also been greatly enhanced, largely reduced the cost of import and export.

Those connectivity has not only facilitated the fast growing people-to-people communication, but also greatly promoted the trade, investment, financing and policy co-ordination. Over years, the trade between our two countries has enjoyed double digit growth. Now China has become NZ's largest trading partner with two-way trade surpassing 30 billion NZ dollars in 2018, reaching the target set by our leaders two years ahead of the schedule. China has also remained NZ's largest source of international students and second largest source of overseas tourists. China plays a key role as top three driving forces for NZ's economic growth.

Forth, cultural and educational mechanisms have been built to consolidate people‘s mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation. To my delight, during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to NZ in 2017, with the strong support of Hon Mayor Phil Golf and many others, our two countries agreed to establish China cultural center in Auckland, which makes NZ the first western country to have two China cultural centers in the whole world. Auckland Lantern Festival has become the biggest celebration in NZ and the South Pacific region, attracting hundreds of thousands of people each year. Chinese Language Week and the "Chinese Bridge" speech competition have become more influential, and the Confucius Institute in Auckland has been rated as a global model for its exemplary performance. With the launch of 2019 China New Zealand Year of Tourism, the number of two-way visitors is expected to rise and meet the estimated target of one million very soon. Cooperation on film production is booming, such as the feature films The Meg, Mulan and The Wondering Earth were all co-produced in both countries with billions of NZ dollars’ box office. Now another feature film co-produced by our two countries is underway as part of China and NZ tourist year and it will be a huge promotion of NZ to 1.4 billion Chinese people and the people of the world.

Fifth, cooperation at local and non-governmental level makes breakthroughs. Over years my colleagues and I have visited almost all regions and cities in my consulate district, hosted dozens of receptions and witnessed signing of various agreements by companies, universities, institutes and local governments between our two sides. We are deeply impressed by the strong desire of the local governments, business people, educators and many others to forge even stronger partnership with China. I feel proud that the sister-city and friendly relations between my consular district and China have developed steadily. The Tripartite Economic Alliance of Auckland, Guangzhou and Los Angles has achieved remarkable success and become a valuable platform of trilateral collaboration and coordination.

Countless facts show that the development of China means important opportunity to NZ as the two economies are highly complementary to each other and our interest is more intertwined with each other. Last month, the Second International Forum for Belt and Road Cooperation was successfully concluded in Beijing, achieving a great deal of fruitful results and offering golden opportunities for global collaboration. China stands ready to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with development strategies of NZ so as to make a bigger cake of cooperation through tapping into the potential for further development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation. In this regard, it is of tremendous significance for the two sides to provide fair, just, transparent, unbiased environment for enterprises from both sides to invest in each other's country. I hope negotiations on upgrading the bilateral free trade agreement will progress well and our economic and trade cooperation advance to a higher level.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great honor and privilege to have worked with all of you as dear friends. I wish to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all the friends present here and friends from all walks of life in NZ, for your longtime valuable support to me and my colleagues. Without your kind and strong support, it would not be possible for me to accomplish my tasks.

My special thanks also go to Chinese communities, students and business people in NZ. You have not only made significant contribution to the economic and social development and cultural diversity of NZ, but also acted as a very important bridge in enhancing friendship and cooperation between our two peoples. Last but not least, I would like to say "Thank You" to my wonderful Consulate team, for everything you have done together with me in the past several years. Hope all of you enjoy the time in Aotearoa and make every success in the future.

No matter where I go, I will forever be with NZ and do whatever I can to promote China-New Zealand friendship. I firmly believe that, with our concerted efforts, China-New Zealand friendship and comprehensive strategic partnership will have an even brighter prospect.

By concluding, please join me in a toast.

To the everlasting friendship between China and NZ!

To the good health of all of you present here!

Cheers!

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