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Speech by Ambassador of China Zhang Weidong at 2016 Spring Festival Reception

Distinguished Minister Mr. Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson,
Distinguished Permanent Secretary Mr. Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson,
Distinguished Permanent Secretary Mr. Kristján Skarphéðinsson,
Distinguished Permanent Secretary Ms. Ásta Magnúsdóttir,
Distinguished Deputy Speaker Mr. Kristján L. Möller,
Distinguished Former Speaker Mme. Ásta R. Jóhannesdóttir,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening. On 8th February, that is in five days, will be Chinese Spring Festival. I am delighted to have all of you here to observe this China´s most important New Year festival. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I wish to express the warmest welcome and sincere thanks for your attendance and wish you and through you to your families a very Happy Spring Festival.

This is the second Spring Festival since I came to Iceland. By comparing the New Year celebrations in China and Iceland, I´ve found some similarities.

Firstly, festival atmospheres last quite long in both our countries. In Iceland, the preparation of Christmas and New Year starts from the fourth Sunday before Christmas, then 13 Yule Lads arrive and leave in succession, until the last one leaves on 6th January. That amounts to almost 40 days. In China, 8th December of Chinese lunar calender, 17th January this year, marks the beginning of China´s New Year season and it ends on the Festival of Lanterns the 15th January of Chinese lunar calender, , which is on the 22nd February of the solar calendar this year. It also lasts nearly 40 days.

Secondly, both of us have special traditional foods on such occasion. For example, people in Iceland eat smoked lamb and Skate, while in China, people eat New Year cake and Jiaozi, or Chinese dumpling.

Thirdly, both of us set fireworks and bonfires.

Fourthly, both of us decorate houses and streets. Christmas trees and lights are widely used in Iceland, while Chinese people use red lanterns and Chinese knots. Apart from that, Chinese people also paste spring couplets on the gate. You may have noticed that there is a pair of spring couplets at the entrance of this hall. The first line, on the right, reads 'Every year is good with peace and satisfaction',and the second line,on the left, reads 'Everything is prosperous with successful people and harmonious families'. The horizontal scroll reads'Lucky star shines bright'.

To Sum up, both of our customs imply good meanings of ringing the old year out and the new year in and praying for the better future.

The year of 2015, to which we said goodbye, was a year featured with complicated international situation. Under such circumstances, China actively adapted to the new normal in its economic development and completed its main goals and tasks of its economic development. China's economy grew by 6.9% in 2015, which stayed ahead of main economies in the world. China generally maintained steadiness in its economy and its major economic indicators, including employment, prices and household income, all showed positive trends of stability. China accounts for 25% of the world economic growth.

China was active in international affairs last year. China has been playing a constructive role in keeping world peace and promoting global development by launching and carrying out a series of China proposals and China solutions with fair-reading and profound significance in global politics, economy and security.

Last year witnessed new results in China-Iceland relations. Our mutual beneficial cooperation in all fields continue to deepen. Our bilateral trade increased by 27%. Over 47 thousand Chinese tourists visited Iceland in 2015, an increase of 83% over the previous year. Developments were also seen in our cooperation in education and culture. These achievements are inextricably linked to the efforts by the people from all walks of life both in China and Iceland. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you sincerely for your support and help.

2016, the new year we are in, will be a year of seeking hope in turbulence. The year 2016 also marks the 45th anniversary of China-Iceland diplomatic relations. According to Chinese lunar calender, the year 2016 will be the year of monkey. Monkey is a symbol of smartness, agility and happiness. Let us join hands and leverage our wisdom to further advance our bilateral relations. Let us make contributions to build a common community of mankind on the basis of peace, win-win cooperation and harmony.

At last, may I propose a toast, to our two countries' friendship, to the happiness of our peoples, to the health of all of you, to a Happy Spring Festival. Cheers.

Thank you.

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