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Speech at the Welcome Reception for the Visit of the Chinese Navy Hospital Ship Ark Peace
2018/08/14

Honorable Semisi Sika, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Tourism,

Honorable Ministers of the Cabinet,

Members of Parliament,

Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Fifita, Assistant Chief of Defense Staff of His Majesty's Armed Forces,

Rear Admiral Guan Bailin and Rear Admiral Qin Wei,

Ladies and Gentleman,

Malo e lelei ! Good evening! Thank you all for attending the reception tonight. First of all, I would like to, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy, express warm welcome to the Hospital Ship Ark Peace of the PLA Navy for re-visiting the Kingdom of Tonga, the well-known Friendly Islands after its first visit four years ago. I would also like to take this opportunity to express sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, His Majesty's Armed Forces, Ministry of Health, Port Authority and relevant departments of Tonga for the careful arrangements for the visit.

The visit by Ark Peace is an important part of the series of events jointly celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Tonga. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China and Tonga always respect each other and treat each other as equals. The two sides have maintained frequent exchanges at the top and other levels with fruitful results in the economic cooperation, trade, and cooperation in education, health, military and other areas, which have brought tangible benefits to our two peoples. In last March, His Majesty King Tupou VI paid a successful State Visit to China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two heads of state reached important consensus on pushing for new and greater achievements in the development of the China-Tonga Strategic Partnership, which has chartered course for the future development of bilateral relations. During past few months, the two sides have been following the spirit of the Joint Press Communique issued during the visit, actively implementing relevant cooperation documents and laid more solid foundation for expanding mutually-beneficial cooperation.

Military to military ties are an important part of our bilateral relations. In recent years, the two military forces have kept expanding interactions. Just take a few examples here. Officials of different levels from His Majesty's Armed Forces attended exchange activities in China. A few Chinese military delegations visited Tonga. China sent military officers to participate in the "Tropical Twilight" humanitarian disaster relief exercises hosted by Tonga. Now the second visit by the Hospital Ship Ark Peace to Tonga, with provision of medical services to friends from all walks of life of Tonga, and professional exchanges in medical and cultural areas, will further strengthen the mutual trust and friendship between the two countries and the two armed forces.

Tonga is good friend and partner of China in the Pacific Island Region, and the development of our bilateral relations has broad prospect. In the spirit of mutual respect and common development, China is ready to work with the Tongan side to further enhance exchanges and collaboration in various fields to promote our Strategic Partnership to a new level, and jointly make new contribution to the peace, stability and development of the Pacific Island Region.

In conclusion, I wish once again the visit of Ark Peace a complete success.

Malo aupito! Thank you!

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