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Remarks by Ambassador Luo Zhaohui at Chinese New Year Celebration Banquet on Parliament Hill

(Shaw Centre, 17 February 2016)

Senator Victor Oh, Co-chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association,

Mr. Xue Jinsheng, Vice President of the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here with you to celebrate the Spring Festival. Thank you, Mr. Xue and Senator Oh, for your kind invitation.

The Spring Festival is the most important festival of a year in China, similar to Canada's celebration of Christmas. This year is the Year of the Monkey. In Chinese culture, monkey is widely seen as a smart, energetic and sometimes naughty animal. I wish everyone a Happy Year of the Monkey.

Chinese began to immigrate to Canada nearly 200 years ago. The population of Chinese-Canadians is now over 1.5 million. They are part of Canada and have made great contribution to this country. They are a bridge connecting the two countries and facilitating the bilateral economic and cultural cooperation.

I always think that China-Canada relations are very special and Chinese people have friendly sentiments towards Canada. One main reason is that there are so many Chinese-Canadians and 140,000 Chinese students living in Canada. You can see that one Chinese student may help draw the attention of at least 100 Chinese to Canada.

I am deeply impressed that Spring Festival sights and sounds are seen and heard almost everywhere in Canada. The Spring Festival is celebrated by not only Chinese but many Canadians as well. Among the guests tonight, there are many who are not of Chinese descent.

I am pleased that more and more Canadians are learning Chinese, and more and more Canadians love Chinese culture. I think this may be what Canada's cultural diversity is all about.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China-Canada relations are entering into a period of opportunities. A new start has been made since the new Canadian government took office.

Three weeks ago, the Chinese Embassy and Global Affairs Canada jointly hosted a reception in Ottawa to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries.

Forty-five years ago, there was no direct air link between our two countries. Now there are 132 direct flights every week between Chinese and Canadian cities.

Forty-five years ago, only 3,000 people travelled to and from China and Canada a year. Now the daily figure is over 3,000.

These figures offer a glimpse of what we have achieved together over the past 45 years.

I share the views of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion that such achievements of our relations would not have been possible without the support and engagement of our peoples. The Chinese side will continue to work closely with the Canadian government as well as the Canadian people to further enhance our cooperation in various fields and at all levels and embrace an even brighter future of China-Canada relations.

Thank you.

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