Your Highness Afioga Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, Head of State of the Independent State of Samoa and Masiofo,
Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa and your Good lady,
Hon. Le mamea Ropati, member of Council of Deputies and your Good Lady,
Hon. Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa,
Honorable Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, and your Good ladies,
Colleagues from Diplomatic Corps,
Chinese compatriots and Overseas Chinese,
Chinese engineers, technicians, agriculture experts, medical team doctors and volunteer teachers,
All my dear friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,
In just four days, we will bid farewell to the Chinese Lunar Year of Dog and usher in the New Year of Pig. The first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year is called Spring Festival, the biggest festival celebrated by Chinese people all over the world. With over four-thousand-year history, Spring Festival contains deep culture and historical connotation. Traditionally, the preparation of celebration starts seven days before the first day of the Lunar New Year and the celebration of the Spring Festival lasts 15 days till the Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day of the first month. The Spring Festival marks the beginning of the Spring season when people are happily embracing hope, good luck and wealth. It is also a time of family reunion. Perhaps everybody knows the Song “I will be home for Christmas”. For Chinese people, there has been the same yearning. No matter where we are, we always try our best to be home for Spring Festival. Tonight, on this auspicious occasion, I am more than happy to embrace the Chinese New Year together with all the distinguished guests present. On behalf of Chinese Embassy, I would like to take this opportunity to express my warm welcome and heartfelt thanks to all the distinguished guests for your gracious presence. I also want to extend the New Year greetings and my best wishes to all of you, to my Samoan friends, to the Chinese communities in Samoa and to all the Chinese engineers, technicians, agriculture experts, medical team doctors and volunteer teachers who are currently working in Samoa. Happy Chinese New Year!
Ladies and gentlemen,
The past year 2018 witnessed fruitful results in various fields and at various levels in bilateral relations between Samoa and China. There have been frequent high-level exchange of visits. Hon. Prime Minister Tuilaepa visited China for the World Economic Forum and held successful meetings and fruitful talks with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang respectively. Last November, President Xi had a meeting with Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the leaders of seven other Pacific Island countries in PNG. It is a meeting of historic significance in China-Pacific Island countries relations as both sides agreed to lift bilateral ties to comprehensive strategic partnership. Samoa has consistently in its strong stand on the One China policy and we are proud to see that Samoa is one of the first Pacific Island countries to join China’s “Belt and Road” cooperation. China sincerely appreciate the firm support on many major issues in international arena from the government of Samoa. Furthermore, China and Samoa have been engaging in excellent cooperation at both international and regional levels in addressing climate change.
In terms of practical cooperation, several major projects have either completed or got started. In May, the second phase of the upgrading project of Faleolo International Airport was successfully completed and the brand new terminal was officially launched. Samoa has now become a country with the most beautiful modern airport in line with international standards among other island countries. Following up the ground-breaking ceremony in May, the construction of The China-Samoa Friendship Park and The Culture and Arts Center are both in progress. Chinese workers are working day and night to ensure that the projects will be completed as soon as possible so that our Samoa friends will be able to use these facilities for cultural and recreational activities sooner. The construction of the grant aid project of the gymnasium for the 2019 Pacific Games has also been going on very well.
People-to-people exchange has also been very active. Last year, around 300 Samoans from various departments of government, private sector participated in the training programs fully-sponsored by the Chinese government in such fields as capacity building in governance, information technology, tourism management, culinary skills, agriculture and fisheries, etc. One highlight among these training programs was the sewing skill training in Samoa. A team of Chinese sewing experts came to Samoa and held three-week training for 100 Samoan women of five communities. The feedback of this training has been very satisfying. Many women participants are now able to sew the clothes for the whole family, some of them even able to earn money by selling the clothes made by themselves. Another highlight was the Friendship visit to China by students and teachers from Samoa College last September. Both of the above two events are featured in a 6-episode documentary titled “ China and Pacific Islands: Shared Destiny” which has been screened on TV all over China and I am glad to tell you that hundreds of millions of Chinese audience have become fans of Honorable Prime Minister Tuilaepa when he played Ukelele and sang along with the visiting students and the teachers from Samoa College in their sister school Hua Luogeng Middle School in Huizhou of Guangdong Province in China.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you may have all noticed that tonight, it is a two-in-one reception. We have invited both our Samoan friends and Chinese compatriots not only to celebrate the Chinese New Year, but also to my farewell party. I came to Samoa with my wife in September, 2015, and now nearly three and half years seem to have passed by in a blink.
At the time when I am going to bid farewell to Samoa, I look back on the past three and half years with honor and pride. As Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Independent State of Samoa, I have been making utmost effort together with my colleagues to strengthen the long-standing friendly relations between China and Samoa, which is my ultimate duty. It has been my honor that I could carry on the excellent job of all my predecessors to represent the People’s Republic of China in the Independent State of Samoa and it is with great pride to see China-Samoa ties making remarkable strides, with substantial achievements in politics, economic and trade, culture and education, tourism, information technology, agriculture and fisheries, capacity building and people-to-people links, etc. However, I am keenly aware that all these achievements would have not been made possible without the all-round strong support and joint efforts from the Samoan side. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest appreciations to Your Highness the Head of State, Your Honorable Prime Minister, all the Honorable Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, all the civil servants in various departments as well as all the friends in various sector. Thank you very much for your invaluable support to the exchanges and cooperation between our two countries. You all have been the great driving force for the development of China-Samoa friendly relations.
At the time when I am going to bid farewell to Samoa, I also look back on the past three and half years with fond feelings and beautiful memories. I understand that in my capacity as the Chinese Ambassador to Samoa, I am also the envoy of friendship of Chinese people to Samoan people. Both my wife and I have been so happy for being able to become friends to many Samoan people. We are even more fortunate and overwhelmed by some of our great Samoan friends who kindly treat us just like their family members.
In fact, two months ago, we already knew that we would leave Samoa for good, but it’s been hard for us to break the news to many of our dear Samoan friends earlier, and it is as hard for us say goodbye to beautiful Samoa. We couldn’t help recalling all the beautiful memories during our over three years’ stay in Samoa — the broad and sunny smiles and cheerful greetings of “Nihao” in Chinese from Samoan people when we drove on the roads on both the islands of Upolu and Savaii; the pure sincerity and the warmth of friendship extended to us though their beautiful dancing and singing or even just the bright smiles of many villagers, young and old, men and women, that touched our hearts when we had the opportunities to reach out to them with any help and assistance that we have been capable of; the delightful talks and hearty laughs and pleasant companies that we had enjoyed and shared with our Samoan friends from all walks of life as well as our colleagues from diplomatic corps and international and regional organizations at various functions and gatherings all year round. Therefore, I would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincerest appreciations to all the friends that we have met in Samoa for everything you have done to make us stay in Samoa a most beautiful and precious part of our life. “All good things will come to an end”, like what people usually say. What we can do is to bear all the beautiful things in our mind and remember all dear friends in our hearts.
Last but not least, I wish to thank all my colleagues at the Chinese Embassy who have been working with me in all our continuous endeavors in strengthening China-Samoa friendship so as to bring more and more tangible benefits to the peoples of our two countries.
Upon my departure, I am very happy with the sound momentum of China-Samoa relations, and I am very proud of having been part of the joint efforts for enhancing China-Samoa friendship. I am fully convinced that China-Samoa friendship which has been built on the strong basis of mutual understanding, mutual respect and common development will continue to prosper in the future. China will remain forever the long-lasting true friend and good brother of Samoa.
Ladies and gentlemen, all my dear friends,
“Long distance separates no bosom friends”. I hope our paths will cross again in the future and look forward to meeting with you soon no matter where.
In conclusion, I would like to invite all the distinguished guest to join me in raising your glasses and propose a toast,
To a happy Chinese New Year,
To the long-lasting China-Samoa friendship,
To the happiness and prosperity of both the Samoan and the Chinese people,
To the good health of all the distinguished guests present,