Good evening, Kia Ora.(晚上好!)
Your Excellency, Mr. John McKinnon, Secretary of Defence, Respected Rear Admiral Jack Steer, Vice Chief of Defence Force; Respected Major General David Gawn, Commander of Joint Force; Respected Ms. Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington; Honorable Members of the Parliament; Your Excellency, Ambassador Xu Jianguo and Madame Ni Li; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
Thank you very much for coming to the Embassy and celebrate together with us the 84th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, and I wish to extend a very warm welcome to all of you.
Since its founding, under the leadership of the CPC, particularly since the founding of the PRC, the PLA has made great achievements in its modernization efforts. It has grown from a single service into a strong military force featuring a range of services and arms. The PLA has taken an active role in safeguarding national security and development interests, and played an important role in maintaining world peace and promoting common development.
Taking part in national construction, emergency rescue and disaster relief is among the important tasks of the PLA in peacetime. The PLA has actively participated in and supported national construction work. In the past two years, the PLA contributed more than 16 million workdays and utilized l.3 million motor vehicles and machines, and participated in the construction of more than 600 major infrastructure projects. Wherever and whenever there is a major disaster in China, there will be PLA soldiers. The armed forces of China have become the shock force in emergency rescue and disaster relief. In order to better accomplish emergency rescue missions, China has formed 8 state-level emergency response units with the armed forces as the mainstay. The 80000-strong professional units played a very important role in disaster relief operations in cases of floods, earthquakes, droughts, forest fires, etc.
China is a responsible country. With the economic development and the widening of national interests, China has consistently supported and actively participated in UN peace-keeping operations. Until the end of last year, China has sent more than 17000 soldiers and military observers in 19 UN peace-keeping missions. In line with relevant UN resolutions, China dispatched naval ships to conduct escort operations in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia in December 2008. Since then, Chinese naval escort taskforce has accomplished 350 escort missions.
China took an active and open stance towards regional security cooperation. Last October, Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie took part in the first ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. In May this year, General Liang participated in the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. This is the first time that a Chinese Defence Minister participated in the Dialogue. China's long-term strategic policy is peaceful development. China will maintain the strategic orientation of preserving common security, seeking common development, and achieving common benefits in developing relations with countries in the Asian Pacific region.
With this in mind, the PLA and the NZDF have conducted regular contacts and exchanges at different levels. Last September, General Li Jinai, Chief of the Political Department of the PLA, visited New Zealand, followed by the visit of two PLA Navy ships. Defence Ministers of our two countries held bilateral talks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. And just one month ago, a group of 24 mid-level officers from three Services of the PLA visited NZ. More exchanges of high-level visits between our two armed forces are expected to take place in the next few months. Above all, the PLA and the NZDF have a mechanism of Strategic Consultation once every year. The PLA and NZDF together with the Australian Defence Force hold joint humanitarian rescue operations regularly. I am quite sure that through such exchanges and joint operations, our two armed forces have not only understood each other better, but also learned from each other.
Next year is the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. I am sure that the relationship between our two armed forces will be further enhanced in line with the further development of the political, economic and cultural relations of our two countries.
To conclude, I wish to take this opportunity and thank you once again for coming here this evening.
Now, may I propose a toast to the friendship between our two countries and our two armed forces.