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Chinese Embassy in New Zealand holds reception to celebrate PLA founding anniversary

On July 31st, 2018, the Defence Attaché of the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand, Senior Colonel Li Jingfeng, held a reception at Te Papa Museum in Wellington to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). About 380 people attended the reception, including Ambassador Wu Xi and diplomatic staff from the Chinese Embassy, New Zealand’s Minister of Defence The Hon Ron Mark, Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short, Deputy Secretary of Defence Tony Lynch and Deputy Secretary Carol Douglass, NZDF Chief of Army Major General Peter Kelly, foreign diplomats and defence attachés from the New Zealand Diplomatic Corps, friends from the wider community, and representatives from NZ-based Chinese enterprises, the local Chinese community and overseas Chinese students.

Ambassador Wu stated that China plays an important role in safeguarding world peace and stability by adhering to the peaceful road of development, an independent foreign policy of peace and a national defence policy that is defensive in nature. The 19th Party Congress last year ushered socialism with Chinese characteristics into a new era and drew a blueprint for China’s future development. China will stay committed to the socialism with Chinese characteristics and continue to reform and open-up. China will undoubtedly adhere to the spirit of UN Charter with all member countries to safeguard the world order and international system, continue to contribute its wisdom and proposals to help settle international and regional hotspots issues, and push forward the Belt and Road cooperation under the commitment to achieving shared benefits through extensive consultation and joint contribution.

Ambassador Wu noted that cooperation between the PLA and New Zealand Defence Force in strategic engagement, education and training, joint military exercises and professional exchanges has achieved fruitful results. Last month, the PLA Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force for the first time conducted the Skytrain joint exercise, which printed another ‘first’ in the long list in China-New Zealand relations. China would like to work with New Zealand to further enhance political mutual trust and mutual respect, and expand mutually beneficial cooperation to further promote bilateral relations, not just for the benefit of our two peoples, but for the peace, stability and common prosperity of the region and beyond.

The New Zealand Minister of Defence Ron Mark extended his heartfelt congratulations on the 91st anniversary of the founding of the PLA and expressed his admiration for the contribution of the Chinese army towards safeguarding world peace. The Honourable Ron Mark noted that China is New Zealand's strategic partner and that the relationship with China is one of New Zealand’s most important and valuable relations with foreign countries. Over the past 30 years since Royal New Zealand Navy frigates visited Shanghai in 1987, China-New Zealand military-to-military relations have continued to develop on the basis of openness and mutual respect. Climate change poses challenges to regional security and Pacific island countries may benefit from Chinese assistance in this area. The ‘Tropical Twilight’ exercise jointly held by the PLA and New Zealand Defence Force in Vanuatu this year is a model for cooperation between the two countries in safeguarding regional security.

In his speech, Air Marshal Kevin Short noted that the PLA and New Zealand Defence Force have been working together to build mechanisms for mutual trust and cooperation in order to safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. In recent years, cooperation between the two militaries has continued to deepen, with the ‘Skytrain’ joint exercise as an example. More practical cooperation in policy exchanges, peacekeeping training and junior officer exchanges will also be carried out in the near future. At present, the two sides are negotiating a series of bilateral mechanism documents, including the new five-year Defence Exchange Programme, which will indicate directions for future cooperation. Mr Short noted that over the past 91 years since its founding, the PLA has made tremendous contributions to China and the world. The New Zealand Government especially appreciates China's huge input into international peacekeeping operations. Mr Short hoped that the two militaries would continue to strengthen cooperation, further advance mutual trust and exchanges, and make greater contributions to regional and world peace and stability.

In his speech, Defence Attaché Li Jingfeng stated that as socialism with Chinese characteristics entering a new era, the building of the PLA has also reached a new stage. With the deepening of defence and military reforms, the entire army adheres to the absolute leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and resolutely implements President Xi Jinping’s thought on building a strong military. By constantly advancing the policy of developing the military through political work, strengthening it through reform, and governing it according to law, the PLA’s combat effectiveness has been significantly enhanced and a cut of 300,000 troops has been completed. Under the guidance of a three-step strategy, the PLA will be built into a world-class army in the middle of this century. China pursues common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and rejects the Cold War mentality and confrontation between blocs. The smooth development of China-New Zealand military-to-military relations are an important part of the strategic partnership between the two countries. The two militaries should continue to work together to safeguard world peace.

The atmosphere at the reception was cordial and friendly. The participating New Zealand guests spoke highly of the achievements made by the Chinese armed forces and their contribution to world peace, expecting to see further practical exchanges and cooperation with the Chinese military in the future. At the reception, a video entitled PLA Today 2018 was screened and there was a photo exhibition including Snapshots of the Chinese PLA in the New Era and a large number of photos demonstrating the building of the PLA and military cooperation between China and New Zealand.

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