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Speech by Zhang Weidong, Chinese Ambassador to Iceland, at the China (Changsha)-Iceland Economic, Trade and Culture Workshop

17 October 2016

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with all of you. I shall welcome especially the colleagues and friends from Changsha, China. It is a pity that Secretary Yi Lianhong could not make it to be here with us because of the transportation technical problem. It is a bad news. However, we have also good news. One is that the Icelandic Team of Gymnasts of Teen Ages won a gold medal in the European Championship. Another is that the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft of China has been successfully launched at 7:30 Beijing time this morning (Icelandic time 11:30 yesterday midnight).

China is really quite far away from Iceland and it is difficult to come and go. I remember in a book written by Jóhannes Jónasson úr Kötlum, the head of the first Icelandic cultural delegation to China, the author described that it took them 8 some days and transited 11 times to go to China in 1952. The visit took them two months altogether. Now new technology brings us closer and the globe becomes one village, but still we need to transit in other cities to come to Iceland. I support a direct fight between China and Iceland so that we can come and go easier. I wish this could come true soon.

This year marks the 45th year of our diplomatic relations. In the past 45 years, we have made progress in our cooperation in all fields. Mutual understandings promoted and friendship enhanced. The relationship between our central governments and the local governments has been good and stable. We have established three couples of sister cities and today Changsha and Ölfus will sign a Letter of Intent to establish sister-ship, together with some other agreements. This is a new development in the relations of our local governments and entrepreneurs. I warmly welcome this tendency of fruitful cooperation. The good relations among the local governments and companies will be surely helpful to promote the people-to- people's mutual understandings and exchanges, thus enhancing the developing of the relations between our two countries as a whole. Please allow me to express my sincere gratitude to you for your efforts and contributions.

I have been here for two years and I found out that in order to develop our cooperation we shall pay attention to three aspects.

Firstly, we shall learn from each other. Iceland is an island country with 330,000 people, but it has its advantages. It is well known for the developing of geothermal energy and marine resources. China is a country with a population of 1.4 billion. It has its advantages as well as short comings. China has adopted a policy of treating all countries in the world, big or small, as equals. In the past 45 years, we have been learning from and cooperating with each other very well. China and Iceland have set up an good example of cooperation between countries with different systems and status of development.

Secondly, we shall support each other. I read some history about the relations between China and Iceland. In 1971, when it was voted in the UN on resuming the legal seat of the People's Republic of China, Iceland, together with the majority of other UN members, supported China. Iceland also understands and supports China's stands in its cause of national unity. When Iceland came across the 2008 economical crisis, China and Iceland signed the swop agreement, prompting the confidence in the country. In Chinese it is called "xue zhong song tan"(sending coal to a friend when it is snowing in winter).

Thirdly, we shall look forward to the future. Now China's economy has entered the stage of new normal. China's development is stable. Last year, the growth in its GDP is 6.7% and this year will keep the momentum. Iceland has recovered quickly and rises fast from the ashes of the economic crisis. Its GDP growth for last year was 3.9% and this year it may be 4 to 4.2%. I am confident in the economy of the two countries and I am confident that the cooperation between our two countries has a bright future.

As the ambassador, I wish you smooth in your cooperation and bring benefits to our two peoples. I will continue to do my best in supporting the cooperation in all fields from all walks of life in our two countries.

May the workshop and the visit of the Changsha delegation a great success!

Thank you, very much!

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