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Chinese Embassy in New Zealand holds a Reception for Army Day-August 1st

On July 27, Senior Colonel Li Jingfeng, Defence Attaché of the People's Republic of China to New Zealand and his wife, Mrs Zhou Hao, held a reception at the Chinese Embassy to celebrate the 89th Anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). Over 200 people attended the reception including representatives from New Zealand Defence Force, police, government departments, defence attaché corps, local Chinese community, Chinese enterprises and international students etc.. New Zealand representatives included Minister of Defence Hon. Gerry Brownlee, Secretary of Defence Ms. Helene Quilter, NZDF Assistant Chief Brigadier John Boswell, NZDF Logistics Commander Commodore David Proctor, Deputy Chief of NZRAF Air Commodore Mark Brunton, Land Component Commander Brigadier Michael Shapland, Air Component Commander Air Commodore Darryn Webb and Wellington Police District Commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle. H.E. Ambassador Wang Lutong and diplomats from the Chinese Embassy also attended the celebration. Assistant Defence Attaché Major Ren Bo presided over the event.

In his speech, Defence Attaché Li Jingfeng noted that the world had undergone tremendous changes during the past 89 years, as had the PLA, and changes were still taking place. Under the firm leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission with President Xi as the core leader, the Chinese PLA was deepening large-scale reforms to provide strong support for the realisation of the Chinese Dream to greatly rejuvenate the Chinese Nation. While the Chinese PLA was undergoing change, reforms had never, and would never undermine the Chinese PLA's commitments to secure the lives and property of the Chinese people, to safeguard Chinese territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests and to protect world's peace and stability. Among the five permanent members of U.N. Security Council, China contributed the highest number of troops for peacekeeping with 2,496 personnel being deployed overseas while building an 8,000-member domestic high-readiness peacekeeping force. China contributed the second highest amount towards peacekeeping expenses among all nations, expending approximately NZ$1.2 billion on an annual basis. Thirteen Chinese military personnel had given their lives for international peace. The PLA Navy had escorted over 6,000 merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden and other locations. China was actively promoting international cooperation in the fields of counter-terrorism, humanitarian aid and disaster relief(HADR) and cyber security, fulfilling a major power's responsibilities and obligations as well as the commitments of an Asia-Pacific member.

Defence Attaché Li Jingfeng noted the military cooperation between China and New Zealand had got a rapid development since President Xi Jinping visited New Zealand in 2014 and upgraded bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership. Last year, Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee and Chief of Defence Force Timothy Keating visited China, and the Chinese PLA Chief of Staff Fang Fenghui visited New Zealand. This April, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key visited China, reaching a consensus with President Xi on further advancing military exchanges between the two countries. This June, Minister Brownlee and Deputy Chief of Staff Sun Jianguo exchanged views during the Shangri-La Dialogue. At the end of June, Secretary of Defence Helene Quilter visited China, and engaged in positive dialogues with Chinese military leaders and scholars. The two militaries not only cooperated in exercises including "Tropical Twilight" and "Cooperation Spirit", but also closely cooperated on a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. On July 10, two Chinese military personnel including sergeant Li Lei were killed in South Sudan. Lieutenant General Timothy Keating immediately sent a letter of condolence, reiterating New Zealand's reassurances to stand together shoulder to shoulder with China in safeguarding world peace. At the end, Senior Colonel Li Jingfeng quoted Li Lei's diary words "world peace – my dream" and noted that the Chinese dream was simple, but great: be a better person and build a better world. The militaries and people of China and New Zealand should continue working together to safeguard the peaceful life of our citizens and the rest of the world.

In his speech, Minister Brownlee noted that China had made admirable contributions towards international peacekeeping. Once again, Minister Brownlee expressed his condolences to Chinese military personnel who had given their lives for peacekeeping efforts. China and New Zealand had demonstrated the common aspiration of safeguarding regional peace and stability through co-hosting HADR exercises and participating in other exercises like RIMPAC. Chinese PLA and NZDF had enjoyed friendly and close cooperation. Although we had different opinions on some issues, this was a positive sign. Just like true friends, the two militaries were further strengthening exchanges and cooperation between China and New Zealand through constant dialogues and communication.

In his speech, Brigadier John Boswell praised the outstanding contribution made by the Chinese PLA to international peacekeeping and HADR efforts. Brigadier Boswell hoped friendly cooperation between the two militaries could be further strengthened. Using the on-going "Tropical Twilight" exercise as an example, Brigadier Boswell illustrated the closeness and significance of military cooperation between the two militaries. Boswell also blessed the participants in Chinese "May you be blessed with peace and safety wherever you are, and may everything go as you hope".

At the end of the reception, both Ambassador Wang Lutong and Minister Brownlee proposed a toast for friendship and cooperation between the two militaries and to the development and prosperity of bilateral relations.

"The Chinese PLA of Today" documentary and photos of the Chinese PLA and China – New Zealand military cooperation activities were played and showed in the reception. A range of introductory materials of Chinese PLA were also handed out. Participating guests praised the speeches delivered by the two sides, commenting that Defence Attaché Li Jingfeng's charismatic remarks were reflective of a powerful military. The guests congratulated the Chinese Embassy on the success of the reception.

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