Remarks by H.E. AmbassadorJIN Zhijian at the Reception Upon Assuming the Post and Celebrations of Chinese New Year

Virðulegu gestir, kæru vinir, komið sæl og blessuð!

Verið velkomin í Kínverska Sendiráðið!

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Gott kvöld! Good Evening! 晚上好!

First of all, please allow me to extend my warmest welcome and heartfelt thanks to all of you on behalf of my wife Mrs. HE Linyun and my colleagues of the Chinese Embassy. Tomorrow will be the Eve of Chinese New Year of the Dog. On this occasion of ringing out the old year and in the new, I would like to extend my sincere blessings and season's greetings to you all. To the Chinese people, the Year of the Dog is a lucky year, dog is regarded as the symbol of loyalty, intelligence and wealth, and I wish you great auspiciousness and success in the upcoming Year of the Dog, Ég óska öllum farsæls komandi nýs árs!

I'm very pleased to be able to return back to Iceland after 27 years. I have been tightly bound to Iceland since I was young and I considered Iceland as my second hometown. In 1985, I was the only Chinese overseas student in Icelandic University studying Icelandic and English, after my graduation I went on to work in the Chinese Embassy in Iceland, which marked a starting point of my 30-year diplomatic career. Here in this country of "Ice and Fire", I spent 6 years of my youth. What impressed me the most was the uniqueness of the wild nature and humanistic spirit of the Icelandic people, especially the great achievements in the economic and social development made by the unyielding and diligent Icelanders. I have immense respect towards this magic land and its people. Being the 14th Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Iceland since the two countries established diplomatic relationship in 1971, I am truly honored and keenly aware of my responsibilities.

After our arrival 2 weeks ago, my wife and I soon found the feeling of coming home. I have met some old friends and got acquainted with new ones. I refreshed my understandings towards Iceland and the relationship between China and Iceland. I was inspired by the great changes taking place in this country, the fast development in our bilateral ties and the dedications to the enhancement of friendship and cooperation between China and Iceland by the two governments and its peoples. Many of my local friends have kept telling me that I came "at the right time". I certainly do agree.

Under the guidance of the leaders of our two countries and with the joint efforts from the two peoples, the relationship between China and Iceland has reached the best time in history. China and Iceland have set up a good example of developing relations featuring mutual political trust, economic integration, cultural inclusiveness and win-win cooperation between countries with different population sizes, economic scales and social systems.

China and Iceland have maintained frequent high-level exchanges and visits, President Xi Jinping and President Gudni Johannesson have exchanged letters frequently, reaching important consensus on further promoting China-Iceland relationship, offering guidance of the bilateral relations and the practical cooperation in various fields. Premier Li Keqiang maintained close communication with Prime Minister Katrin Jokobsdottir. Last month, Speaker of Althingi, Mr. Steingrimur Sigfusson paid a successful joint visit along with other speakers from Nordic and Baltic countries to China at the invitation of the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Mr.Zhang Dejiang.

China-Iceland pragmatic cooperation has yielded fruitful results. Iceland is the first west European country to recognize China's full market economy status and first European country to sign the Bilateral Free Trade Agreement with China. The Chinese Government provided timely assistance during the difficult period when Iceland was fighting against the financial crisis. These are good examples in our relationship. Last year, the bilateral trade volume reached nearly 600 million US dollars, while in 1971, when the diplomatic ties were established, the volume was only 240 thousand US dollars. China has maintained Iceland's largest trading partner in Asia for the past 12 years. China and Iceland have also had fruitful cooperation in other areas such as agriculture, fishery, geothermal energy, Arctic issue, science and education. Our two countries have also enjoyed vibrant people-to-people exchanges. There has been a huge increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Iceland, last year it reached a all time high of 86 thousands.

I have full confidence in the future of the relationship between China and Iceland. Last October, the Chinese Community Party successfully concluded its Nineteenth National Congress, establishing the "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era", entering a new era of Socialism with Chinese characteristics and Embarking on a Journey to Fully Build a Modern Socialist China. In 2017, China's GDP exceeded 12 trillion US dollars, and the economic growth rate reached 6.9%, contributing 30% of the global economic growth. China plays a more important role as the global economic growth driver and stabilizer. The Icelandic economy has also witnessed a strong recovery and is growing in a very positive way. These provide tremendous new opportunities for our bilateral relationship. By considering signing the MOU on cooperation within the framework of the "Belt and Road Initiative" between our two governments and other means, China and Iceland can further enhance practical cooperation in the areas such as trade of agricultural and fishery products, infrastructure construction in aviation and communications, green energy, Arctic affairs, tourism, education and people-to-people exchanges.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the distinguished guests present tonight and others, for your important contributions to the development of our relations and your valuable support to the Chinese Embassy. I will spare no efforts and work closely with you to put plans into action and transform expectations into reality, further promoting our bilateral relations by deepening practical cooperation in all areas, delivering greater benefits to our two countries and two peoples. I wish and believe, with the assistance of friends from all walks of life, when I finish my tenure and leave Iceland in the future, the China-Iceland relations will enter a new state and reach a new level.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

I expect to see your continuous support to the Chinese Embassy and myself, making new contributions to the promotion of friendship and cooperation between China and Iceland. Let me conclude by wishing you and your family a happy new year, wish you all good health and success in the Chinese New Year of the Dog, and wish our two countries and two peoples greater prosperity!

Thank you! Þakka ykkur fyrir!