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Speech at the Farewell Reception by H.E.Mr. Xu Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Poland
(February 20, 2018)
2018/02/22

Distinguished Guests,

Excellencies,

Dear Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My wife and I would like to thank you all for coming to this reception.

While we always think there will be days to come, there comes the day to leave. I remember well a description of Chopin's nocturne: you may forget when the music started, and before you wake up from fascination it has slipped to the last note. It is really desirable and fulfilling to appreciate the lingering music. And in fact I share the same feeling when I came to Poland and has to say goodbye to her now.

I have been the Ambassador to Poland for almost 5 years and a half. In the last 2000 days, I visited all 16 provinces and most major cities and towns of Poland. I made many friends, learned a lot about this beautiful country and her friendly people, and got attracted by her charming culture. In the book From the Soil by a famous Chinese sociologist Fei Xiaotong, he mentioned one observation that Chinese share with Poles a common character, i.e. the strong emotion for their lands. By now I seem to have a special feeling for the land I lived for the past five-odd years.

Before the reception, I looked through the Wall of Ambassadors outside this hall once again to review the history of China-Poland diplomatic relations. Ambassador Wang Bingnan and Ambassador Wang Guoquan, who served longer tenures than I do, represented China in the 15-year Sino-US Ambassadorial Talks, an important episode of the history of New China's diplomacy. Times and tides change. Today both China and Poland have quite a different development level and international standing. The dimensions of our bilateral relations are largely enriched.

During my posting here, I am privileged to be a part of many major events in China-Poland relations together with you. We witnessed an acceleration period of our growing relationship. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Zhang Dejiang visited Poland one after another. Polish President, Prime Minister, Speakers of Sejm and Senate visited China respectively. The Prime Ministers of our two countries met in China-CEEC Summits for 3 times and held bilateral talks. That was an unusual frequency of high-level exchanges in the history of our 69 years of diplomatic relations. In recent years, China and Poland established Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, expanding active cooperation on interconnectivity, trade and investment, finance and all other fields under the Belt and Road Initiative and 16+1 framework. We became more important partners with great potentials yet to tap. Our bilateral trade grows at an average annual rate of 8%, from 14.4 billion US dollars in 2012 to 21.3 billion in 2017. Chinese investment in Poland has doubled and there have been breakthroughs in projects. I am also much impressed by the people-to-people ties which are much closer. In those hundreds of public events I participated, I heard many stories of our people's friendship. And I am delighted to see a rapid growth of numbers of students and tourists in each other's country. About 5 years ago, less than 40,000 Chinese visited Poland a year, but the number exceeded 130,000 last year. As an acknowledge of my commitment to the development of bilateral ties, I will be honored with Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

I spent 27 years working and living in Central and Eastern European countries. And I was in charge of the relations with this region when working in my Foreign Ministry. By recalling the years in Romania, Slovenia and Poland where I started as a 17-year-old student and ended as a "veteran soldier" putting my 42 years of diplomatic services to a full stop, I have mixed feelings. As a diplomat, I should have been used to getting acquaintances and bidding farewell. But I find it the hardest to leave this time. I suppose it is because the changes in China and CEE countries are so compelling, the rhythm of our growing relations is so exciting, thus making every moment of the experience in diplomacy more memorable than ever.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's Reform and Opening-up Policy, a key impetus for China's robust growth and development. In Poland, many friends appreciate the epic changes in China after seeing by themselves. But still many people are looking at China only from the 'telescope' or 'reflector' of the media. Although China and Poland are thousands of miles away, the direct flight between the two capital cities only take less than 9 hours and the traveling became much easier than 40 years ago when the 10-day train was the only choice. Poland will celebrate the centennial of independence this year, and its achievements are also widely recognized. We are different in social system and development path, but we must see each other in the light of development. Both the Chinese 'Dragon' and the Polish 'Eagle' are about to soar. We are similar in our people's expectation for better life, our country's pursuit of prosperity and our nation's dream for revival. Last year, the Communist Party of China convened its 19th National Congress, making clear China's future direction and focus in the coming 30 years. It tells a story of a self-reforming China in pursuit of higher quality development, a more beautiful and open-up China that will bring peace and opportunities to the world. As for Poland we notice the ambitious Responsible Development Plan. With our joint efforts, I am convinced that our two countries will make good use of the present valuable period of actively growing relations, implement the consensus reached by our leaders, seize the opportunity to cooperate with an open mind and be a share of each other's better future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

I would avail myself of this opportunity to express again my hearty thanks to you.

To my friends from Polish government, Parliament, local community, and across the Polish society, thank you for your support and cooperation kindly extended to me during my tenure. Thank you for all your efforts in promoting our bilateral relations. I wish you all the best in your work.

To my colleagues from the diplomatic corps, I benefited a lot from meeting and communicating with you. My wife and I cherish our friendship with you, and wish you more beautiful experiences to come in your careers.

To my compatriots living in Poland, I am greatly touched by your patriotism and enterprising spirit. I wish you all happiness and success in Poland, and assure you that the Embassy is always your home.

My thanks also go to my colleagues working side-by-side with me day and night. Your efforts and contribution are crystallized in all our achievements.

On a personal note, I would give special thanks to my wife, for her silent devotion to our family and behind-the-scene support for me since our marriage. She is in Poland with me for only a little over a year, but has been engaged in lots of activities and made many friends to boost the mutual understanding and friendship between China and other countries.

I hope to reserve the reluctance to myself and leave the expectations to all of you. The China-Poland relationship runs like a train, it shifts gear, speeds up, and travels far. I am retiring but I will keep contributing my part to the moving of the train and watch it going faster and further.

My wife and I will leave Poland next Wednesday, but the wonderful time here will remain with us forever. As a memory, my wife made an album which tells some of our work and life in Poland. I invite you to share our memories while trying the Chinese food.

In conclusion I'd like to quote a line from Polish Poet Zbigniew Herbert's Farewell, 'The moment has come, we have to say farewell'.

Now please join me in raising the glasses,

To a better future of China-Poland relations,

To our everlasting friendship,

Cheers!

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