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• Mrs. Jenny Seeto, President of the Fiji Chinese Association
• Your Excellency the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Fiji, Ambassador Dr. Qian Bo
• Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps
• Distinguished Guests
• Ladies and gentlemen

Ni Hao and Ni sa bula vinaka

It gives me great pleasure to be here today to celebrate this auspicious occasion in the Chinese calendar year of 2018.

On behalf the Government and people of Fiji, I extend to you our very best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.

This year is the Year of the Earth Dog. According to Chinese mythology, I understand that those who are born in the Year of the Dog are destined to be sincere, loyal, independent, decisive, responsible, courageous and active personnel. They are supposed to get on well with people and are able to deal with the challenges of everyday life better than their contemporaries.

The Earth Dog is very persistent and never gives up. These are qualities we should all aspire to possess as responsible and law-abiding citizens of our beloved Fiji.

The latest Fiji Census statistics revealed that the average age of Fiji’s population today is below the age of 28, and those young people will come to shape the future of Fiji.

By instilling our youth with the drive, courage, and passion - like that of the Earth Dog - they will continue to build upon our progress, strengthening Fiji with the same drive that has brought our great nation to where it is today.

The People’s Republic of China has been a very close ally of Fiji for decades extending back to the establishment of diplomatic ties between our two countries in 1975, and strengthening even further in the recent decade.

As a result of expanding Fiji-China relations, Fiji has, since then, continued to experience a surge in growth opportunities in the areas of social development, trade and investment, as well as a renewed commitment of support towards Fiji’s stand on climate change and its aspiration to successfully achieve the targets within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

Recognising the Fijian Government’s infrastructural development needs in both our urban and rural sectors, the People’s Republic of China has continued to respond with viable solutions that have resulted in real-time benefits for the people of Fiji.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of the People’s Republic of China, through its Embassy here in Suva, for its diplomacy through humanitarian assistance, the most recent being the financial support extended to the Fiji Government and the people of Fiji following the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.

I also acknowledge the People’s Republic of China’s unwavering support of the United Nations Climate Change negotiations and of Fiji’s presidency of COP23.

Ladies and gentlemen, tourism is another area in which we have mutually benefitted with chartered flights from Hangzhou, China, bringing Chinese tourists into Fiji.

To our visitors, I would like to extend to you all a very warm Fijian ‘Bula’ and welcome to our shores. I hope that you will enjoy our traditional Fijian hospitality.

With our tourism industry leaning increasingly towards niche markets, Fiji has established a capacity to better target the discerning international traveler.

The ties between the People’s Republic of China and Fiji has been further strengthened with the establishment of the Confucius Institute at the University of the South Pacific. Not only does the Institute foster the learning of the Chinese language, it also bridges the cultural gap between our two countries through country-to-country exchanges and cultural programmes.

As the regional University celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, indeed a momentous achievement, USP’s Confucius Institute should celebrate with it as it solidifies its foundation as the centre for premium Chinese language and cultural learning.

To all our Chinese partners in development, and the friends of Fiji who strove, over the years, to further promote the mutually beneficial relations that now exists between our two nations and have been most helpful in assisting us in dealing with our socio-economic and political challenges, I would like to acknowledge, commend and more importantly, thank you for your efforts as we commemorate and celebrate the Chinese New Year today.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we enter the Year of the Earth Dog, we are reminded that the last time this sign of the Chinese Zodiac was upon us was in 2006 — a very different time for Fiji indeed.

And now, as we stand here today after journeying through a full 12-year cycle, I ask you to reflect on the progress that we have made together, and of the changes we have witnessed all around us. The nation we see around us today is unlike anything we have seen before in Fijian history.

Our system of governance is free and fair, giving equal rights to all Fijians. Our students are more educated, more skilled, and more prepared to enter the workforce — a workforce with more career options, and higher-quality career options, at their feet than ever. Our deep rural and maritime communities have a higher quality of life, and access to more resources. And our voice on the global stage is louder and prouder than it has ever been. We have witnessed eight straight years of economic growth, and our unemployment rate is at a 30-year low.

Ladies and gentlemen, in short, Fiji is a changed nation. We are stronger than ever.

We come into this Year of the Earth Dog a very different animal than we did a mere 12 years ago — and the best accomplishment of all is that all Fijians, regardless of ethnicity, background, or socio-economic standing, can celebrate these successes as equals. As a prospering Fijian family, united as one.

To those who have gathered here this morning, I am pleased to see that you have all made an effort, despite the heavy rains - and the threat of a tropical cyclone - to attend and enjoy the festivities that the members of the Chinese community have organised. Thank you for your support.

Today, we celebrate the beginning of the Chinese New Year. The beginning of any New Year is always a cause for celebration because it is an opportunity to renew our commitments to a fulfilling life, including a peaceful and prosperous future.

In China, the New Year also marks the Spring Festival and the start of Spring, which is to commemorate the beginning of the planting season, indeed, a celebration of life.

To all our Chinese friends and all Fijians of Chinese ancestry, I wish you continued prosperity and good health.

Kung Hei Fat Choy (Best wishes for happiness and prosperity in Cantonese).

Xie, Xie, Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and May Almighty God bless you all and our beloved Fiji.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications