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Remarks by Ambassador Wang Ke at the Gala Performance Celebrating 2016 Overseas "Happy Chinese New Year" and Second "Fish and Dragon Festival" in Barbados

Hon. Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson,
Hon. Stephen Lashley, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports,
Hon. Esther Byer, Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development,
Colleagues from Diplomatic Corps,
Specially Invited Guests,
Mr. Xu Ning, Vice President of China National Opera and Dance Drama Theatre and Head of CNODDT Art Troupe,
Members of CNODDT Art Troupe,
Representatives of Chinese community in Barbados,
Friends from Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good evening!

Welcome to the Gala Performance celebrating 2016 Chinese New Year and 2nd "Fish and Dragon Festival" in Barbados. We are much delighted tonight to enjoy an excellent performance presented by China National Opera and Dance Drama Theatre, one of the most distinguished art bodies in China. The performance has trio missions-it joins 2016 Chinese New Year celebrations overseas, preludes 2016 China-Latin America/Caribbean Cultural Exchange Year in Barbados and kicks off the 2nd "Fish and Dragon Festival" to celebrate Chinese New Year in Barbados.

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, has been celebrated by Chinese people for over 4,000 years, which is the most traditional, most remarkable and grandest annual event in China. In this beautiful festive season, Chinese people farewell the past year and welcome the new in a most flourishing and joyful way in the hope for a prosperous and lucky year to come.

Nowadays, Chinese New Year is celebrated all over the world. Last year, "Fish and Dragon Festival" was launched to mark Chinese New Year in Barbados and attracted many Bajan people to get familiar and fall in love with Chinese New Year and its culture. This year, while the 2nd "Fish and Dragon Festival" is prepared, overseas "Happy Chinese New Year" celebrations are spreading more than 400 cities in 140 countries and regions with a total number of 2,100 events.

This coming November is going to be the 50th anniversary of Independence of Barbados, a series of highlighting events are undertaking everyday. When Chinese New Year meets Barbados Independence celebration, the mood becomes even more festive. Let us here welcome the Chinese New Year along with Barbados' 50th Independence jubilee. I wish more Barbadian friends will start to know China and become fans of Chinese cultural through "Fish and Dragon Festival".

This year's "Happy Chinese New Year" and "Fish and Dragon Festival" are co-produced by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Barbados, Central Bank of Barbados and the newly established Barbados Chinese Cultural Centre. It is another vivid translation of the friendly cooperation between China and Barbados. In the year of 2015, we together witnessed the loan agreement signing ceremony and groundbreaking ceremony held for Sam Lord's Castle Hotel redevelopment project financed by China's $170 million preferential loans, China agreed to carry out the overhaul and set up a photovoltaic system for Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, Chinese Navy Hospital Ship "Ark Peace" paid her inaugural visit to Barbados and offered free medical care and training service to Barbados Defense Force and the public, and the Confucius Institute at the UWI Cave Hill Campus was launched. Remarkably, a total number of over 400 persons from inside and outside of the campus joined the Chinese language courses, showing that more and more Barbadians are eager to know China and speak Chinese. We are proud to say that China-Barbados relations is growing with substantial fruits and moving forward with vitality.

I wish to take this opportunity to show my gratitude to the artists from China National Opera and Dance Drama Theatre, who have given up their family reunion time during this festival season and brought friendship and New Year's greetings of Chinese people to Barbadian people. My heartfelt thanks also go to two Barbadian artists who are going to participate in the performance, local media friends and China Central Television reporting team who took a long journey from Brazil and Cuba. I also give my thanks to Central Bank of Barbados, Barbados Chinese Cultural Centre, many Barbadian friends and my colleagues at the Embassy who all have worked very hard to make the performance happen tonight. Meanwhile, I warmly invite all of you to attend "Fish and Dragon Festival" celebrations to be held at Church Village Green tomorrow.

2016 is the Year of the Monkey according to Chinese zodiac. Monkey in Chinese cultural always bears the image of Wisdom, Longevity and Progress. I wish everyone good health, prosperity and happiness in the year of the Monkey, and wish China-Barbados relations new achievements in 2016.

In conclusion, I wish the performance a huge success and a memorable night to all.

I thank you very much!

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