Hon. Minister Tangara,
Mr. Professor Anjum,
My Fellow Countrymen,
Dear Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I warmly welcome and thank you all for joining us with the celebrations at the Chinese Embassy tonight. The Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is on the 5th of February this year.
Today’s Chinese New Year Gala Reception at the Embassy is an occasion for you to experience the Chinese culture and tradition. For thousands of years in our history, the Spring Festival has always remained the most significant and spectacular festival of the Chinese people. Similar to Tobaski for the Muslims and Christmas for the Christians, the Spring Festival is the grandest and the most important annual event for the Chinese. It is a time for relatives and friends to gather. I am so pleased that today Hon. Tangara, Hon. Joof, Hon. Dibba and other Gambian friends are here with us to enjoy the Spring Festival.
The last year marked the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening-up, and I suppose you have already seen our photo gallery of the achievements we made thanks to the past 40 years of hard work. Over the past four decades, China’s economy has grown from a pond to an ocean. In 2018, the Chinese GDP reached over 90 trillion RMB, and the growth rate was at 6.6%, which continued to be one of the highest among major economies around the globe.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out, our world today is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century. The year 2018 has been marked by uncertainty. Unilateralism and protectionism further developed, and the international system came under serious strain. In such circumstances, China has kept cleaving waves and forging ahead toward its intended destination. We held the Bo’ao Forum for Asia, which stated loud and clear that China’s door of opening-up will not close but open even wider. We hosted the first China International Import Expo, which was the world’s first national-level expo devoted to imports. We hosted the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which advocated building an even stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future. The joint undertaking of the Belt and Road Initiative entered a new phase, and China’s South-South cooperation with developing countries, including The Gambia, was elevated to a new level. We have looked beyond the changing landscape and made active efforts to foster a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Three days ago, H.E. President Adama Barrow sent a letter to H.E. President Xi Jinping at the advent of the Spring Festival to deliver his warm felicitations and best wishes, and he expressed confidence in the continuous development of our bilateral friendly relations. Today, we witness an increasingly close China-Gambia cooperation in various fields. We are actively implementing the fruitful outcomes of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit and the official visit made by Wang Yi, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister. In December 2018, a major China-aid infrastructure project, the Road and Bridges Construction in URR, was successfully launched. The agreement on the feasibility study of the China-aid Gambian National Electricity Transmission and Distribution Project has been signed, and Chinese experts will soon come to The Gambia for feasibility study of the project. China’s agricultural experts will also come to The Gambia very shortly. Last week, the China-aid “Brightness Action” Campaign was practiced in Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Center in Kanifing, during which 206 Gambian patients underwent free eye surgeries carried out by Chinese doctors and regained eyesight. What’s more, The Confucius Institute at the University of The Gambia will be inaugurated shortly, which will boost China-Gambia cultural exchanges and bring the hearts of our people even closer to each other. All these projects conform well with the National Development Plan of the Gambian government, making great contributions in various areas to the development of The Gambia.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The year 2019 will mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It is a critical juncture in our journey toward the great renewal of the Chinese nation and a crucial year for meeting the first centenary goal, namely ushering in a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Looking into the future, peace and cooperation remains a surging trend of the world. We will stand firmly for the existing international order, ensure the success of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held this year in Beijing, advance friendship and cooperation with all countries including The Gambia, and take an active part in shaping global governance.
In the year 2019, we sincerely hope that our brotherly Gambian people will make greater success and China-Gambia friendly cooperation would yield more substantial results. We look forward to working closely with our Gambian friends, promote our mutually beneficial cooperation to a new high, and deliver more to our peoples.
Now I would like to propose a toast:
I wish all of you and your family a very happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year!