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Welcome Remarks by H.E. Ambabassador Song Zhe, Head of the Mission of the P.R. China to the European Union at the New Year's Concert

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

Good Evening. Welcome to the New Year’s Concert.

The year 2009 must be an extraordinary year since the beginning of this century, for there are many moments and events worth remembering. The world will remember this year for its strenuous efforts towards economic recovery after the strike of the financial crisis. Europe will remember this year for the “Lisbon Treaty”, its entry into force ushering the European Union into a new phase of development. China will remember this year for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. We will also remember that China withstands the crisis, meets the challenges, speeds up its economic transformation and pushes forward its economic, political and social reform. Up to date, all our policy measures as response to the crisis have taken good effect, and there is no doubt that China’s economic growth this year will achieve the set target of 8%. China is moving forward steadily along the road of comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development.

For those who are devoted to China-EU relations, I hope you will remember this year for the following features of our relationship.

First, in face of the fast-changing international situation, our political trust and strategic cooperation have been further enhanced.

This year records the most frequent meetings between the Chinese and the EU leaders, which include two China-EU summits, visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to the EU headquarters and the China-EU high-level economic and trade dialogue. During each meeting, both sides highlighted the strategic nature and long-term significance of our relationship and spoke highly of its role in promoting each other’s economic and social development and in coping jointly with global challenges. Each time the leaders set out the strategic vision and make blueprint for upbringing our relationship and cooperation.

Secondly, in face of the severe impact of the financial crisis, our mutually beneficial cooperation has further demonstrated its value. Although our trade volume somewhat declined compared to last year, its share in China’s total foreign trade has not wavered. The EU remains China’s largest trading partner, and its trade deficit with China is falling. Although global investment suffers negative growth this year, the EU’s investment in China has maintained a strong momentum, registering a positive growth in the first ten months. China has sent ten trade and investment promotion missions to Europe. Both Chinese and European enterprises are exploring new opportunities and new models of cooperation.

Thirdly, in face of disturbances that took place last year, our mutual understanding and perception have been further improved. Both sides recognize the importance and urgency to deepen mutual understanding and support each other’s path of development. This year, we have taken new steps to promote exchange and dialogue in education, youth, culture and many other fields. The Europalia-China Art Festival and the Frankfurt Book Fair bring the European people close to contemporary China. The first seminar on China-EU strategic partnership was successfully held in Beijing, which provides a useful platform for the think tanks to present policy suggestions and recommendations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Next year will be the 35th anniversary of China-EU diplomatic relations. It will be a new starting point with plenty of potentials and opportunities. In the post-crisis era, as two important and constructive international forces, China and the EU have the responsibility, willingness and ability to build a close, harmonious, stable and cooperative relationship. This will not only benefit the people of China and the EU, but also contribute to peace and prosperity of the world. We should have confidence, ambition, determination and perseverance to keep on strengthening our comprehensive and strategic partnership.

Distinguished guests, you are all participants, contributors and witnesses of China-EU relations. You have made good effort for their healthy and stable development. On behalf of the Chinese Mission, I would like to express our gratitude. My Mission and I will continue to work with you in the coming year for the advancement of our relationship.

Now, let us enjoy the traditional Chinese folk music, the sound of harmony of the Chinese civilization.

Thank you!

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