On Feb. 12th, the Chinese Embassy held its annual Open Day for celebrating the Chinese New Year.
The Ambassador Zhang Junsai welcomed all the guests to attend today's celebration party and told story about the Year of Rat. He said that according to the Chinese Zodiac, there are 12 animals in a round of 12 years, each represents one year. This year is the Year of the Rat. The rat is the smallest among the 12 animals, yet it ranks the First in the Zodiac. We Chinese regard the Year of the Rat as Good Fortune and Prosperity. Those who were born in the Year of the Rat are believed to be smarter, and full of wisdom. The World-renowned Rats in the history include Galileo, Plato, Shakespeare, Washington, and Mozart, etc.
In his remark, he said that the Spring Festival is the occasion not only for the Chinese families to get together but also for us to bid farewell to the past and usher in the new. During the past year, China's economy and social development witnessed speedy advancements. China's GDP in 2007 reached 3.4 trillion US Dollars, ranking the fourth in the World. China's economy has been developing with double-digit increase each year during the past 5 years-running. Our foreign trade volume reached 2.2 trillion US Dollars last year and is listed the third in the World. The 17th National Congress of Communist Party of China was held in Mid-October last year, which delivered the message to the world that China will continue to take the path of Reform and Opening up and achieve economic and social development peacefully. China will maintain its policy and strengthen co-operations with various countries in the world including Australia.
On Sino-Australian relation, the Ambassador said that 2007 was the year in which the Sino-Australian relations kept advancing in all areas. It was the 35th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia. About 30 celebration activities to mark the anniversary were held by both sides. The successful state visit to Australia by President Hu Jintao has brought our bilateral relations to a new level. A week ago, H.E. Mr. Yang Jiechi, China's foreign Minister paid an official visit to Australia and activated the Sino-Australian Strategic Dialogue together with Australian Foreign Minister Hon. Stephen Smith. The bilateral trade volume reached 43.85 billion US Dollars in 2007 making an increase of 33.08% over 2006. That means a record-breaking increase at 10 billion US Dollars over the previous year. China is now the Number one trade partner of Australia. The number of Australian visitors to China last year was 607,000, an increase of 12.9% over 2006. At the same time, the number of Chinese visitors to Australia showed 16% increase and was 357,000. There are over 97,000 Chinese students studying in Australia, and has become Australia's biggest source of international students.
In his conclusion, he said that we have entered into the Year of Rat, it is the 30th year of China's policy of Reform and Opening up. And it's also the exciting year we are holding the Beijing Olympic Games. It is my sincere hope that, in the Year of the Rat, which symbolizes the Wisdom, the Chinese and Australian people will bring their intelligence and wisdom into full play, and make common efforts in binging about a brighter future.
In his remark, the Ambassador stressed that some southern provinces in China were hit by heavy snow, sleet, ice rain and unusual cold recently. It is the worst disaster ever in 50 years. The daily life of thousands of the Chinese families were seriously affected. The Chinese government has been taking series of measures for the disaster relief work. Although we are now far away from home on this southern hemisphere, we are greatly concerned with the disaster. In order to contribute our bit for the relief work, we have organized today's charity sales and lucky-draws. With the money we gained today, we'll make donations to the people in disaster-stricken areas. Your participation in today's various activities will be much appreciated.
Some Australian Ministers and MPs as well as guests from different circles attended this function and enjoyed the colorful Chinese art performances.