19 August 2016
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
salaam, wanshang hao and good evening to all of you.
Wo Re Lie Huan Ying Da Jia Chu Xi Ci Ci Zhao Dai Hui.
It gives me enormous pleasure to welcome all of you to our celebration of the 97th anniversary of our national day. We are honoured by your presence and I hope you will enjoy your time with us this evening. Thank you for joining us on this auspicious day.
I would like to express special thanks to Mr. Zhang Ming, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, Chief of the Office of International Military Cooperation at the Ministry of National Defence, for taking time out of their busy schedules to join our celebration today. Thank you, gentlemen.
The first thing I would like to do on this important national occasion for Afghanistan is to pay tribute to the more than 350000 brave Afghan national security and defence forces who are not only fighting to safeguard the country’s independence, security and safety of their fellow Afghans but who are also fighting against regional and global terrorist elements and groups for the stability and security of the entire region. The plethora of terrorist groups present in the region are today threatening both Afghanistan and the region, including China.
Just over the past few weeks and months, our soldiers and police forces have eliminated hundreds of terrorists and militants associated with various terrorist groups and networks such as Daesh, ETIM, TTP, the Taliban and others. As always, the people and government of Afghanistan are determined to continue our just struggle against this common enemy that is increasingly transnational and unrestrained by any standards or norms of civilized life.
We in Afghanistan are also fighting to preserve, protect and expand the historic gains of the Afghan people over the past fifteen years in the political, security, economic. cultural, educational and other areas, which have been earned through the sweat and blood of countless Afghan men, women and children. We will never allow these achievements that have transformed Afghanistan for the better to be put in danger by the terrorist groups, their supporters and sympathizers.
Taking into account the real danger that the terrorist threat poses to all of us and the need for a collective approach to fighting terrorism and extremism and in line with the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership between Afghanistan and China, in the past year our two countries have elevated our military-to-military and counter-terrorism cooperation to a strategic level. Indeed, the first ever Afghanistan-China Bilateral Military Strategic Dialogue was successfully held between the two military chiefs earlier this month right here in Beijing. Beyond the bilateral military and counter-terrorism cooperation, our two countries have also worked closely together over the past several months to strengthen and broaden regional counter-terrorism cooperation. As a result, the Afghan and Chinese military chiefs, together with their counterparts from Pakistan and Tajikistan, came together in Urumqi on 3 August this year to establish the first-ever Quadrilateral Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism on Counter-Terrorism among the four countries. We see this new mechanism as an important and tangible step towards a comprehensive, region-wide common counter-terrorism and security strategy that is essential for safeguarding our region against the evolving threat of terrorism and extremism, and for ultimately defeating this common menace.
We are also grateful to our Chinese brothers and sisters for starting to provide direct military assistance to Afghanistan this year. This assistance of equipment and arms will help boost the operational capabilities of our national security and defence forces against the terrorist groups which we are fighting in Afghanistan.
Another area where China has been a steadfast partner to Afghanistan is the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. Given the deep trust and close traditional friendship between our two countries, China’s participation in Afghan peace and reconciliation efforts is a source of confidence and hope to the Afghan government and people. We are especially thankful to the government of China for the membership and active and constructive role of China in the context of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) mechanism among Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States, which was established in December 2015. The Afghan government attaches great importance to the continuous active participation and support of China to our peace and reconciliation efforts with those elements of the Afghan Taliban who are ready to make peace with their legitimate government.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the past year, we have also forged ahead with concrete steps to deepen and broaden cooperation in other crucial areas. For example, our countries also elevated the level of our strategic economic cooperation through the signing of an agreement on jointly building the One Belt, One Road initiative, signed during the visit of the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah to Beijing in May this year at the invitation of H.E. Premier Li Keqiang.
Pioneered by such historical figures as Xuan Zang who visited and spent considerable time in various provinces of ancient Afghanistan, and wrote about it in detail, the revival of the Ancient Silk Road through the One Belt, One Road initiative will play a critical role in helping us in Afghanistan to once again transform our country into a landbridge and roundabout linking China with West Asia and Central Asia with South Asia and beyond. This is the natural and rightful role for Afghanistan in the Heart of Asia, and a win-win proposition for all our neighbours and the wider region. Among other priorities, our focus in the implementation of the One Belt, One Road initiative will be on projects in the infrastructure, energy and production capacity areas, where we hope to make concrete progress in the year ahead.
The resumption of direct flights between the two countries in July this year marked another milestone in the bilateral relationship. We are hoping that the weekly Ariana Afghan Airlines flight between Kabul and Urumqi will expand to other cities in China in due course. And I hope that more Chinese citizens will visit Afghanistan now that we have restarted this direct flight.
Our two countries also signed an important agreement on the export of world-famous Afghan saffron to China in May this year. This agreement will boost the direct export of Afghan speciality products to China and provide much-needed support to Afghan farmers and agriculturalists.
These very few examples of significant progress in cooperation between Afghanistan and China during the past year has been a result of the high-level momentum in the strategic partnership maintained by our leaders. The two presidents most recently met in June of this year on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Tashkent where they reached important consensus on deepening and broadening cooperation in the security, political, economic areas and strengthening people-to-people ties, which our two governments and private sectors will work together to realize in the time to come.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China has also been a generous supporter of our reconstruction and development efforts over the years. I therefore would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the gratitude of the Afghan government and people for China’s support to us in areas such as education and capacity building, affordable housing, agriculture and humanitarian assistance.
Afghanistan and China are two ancient societies and next-door neighbours linked by centuries-old ties of friendship, brotherhood, trust, mutual respect and support, good neighbourliness and cooperation. We have full confidence that guided by the shared vision and strong determination of our leaders, our two countries will mark further great achievements and progress throughout the full spectrum of our comprehensive relations and cooperation in the year ahead.
A Fu Han Wan Sui! A Zhong You Yi Wan Sui! [Long live Afghanistan！Long live Afghan-China friendship!]
Fei Chang Gan Xie Da Jia.
Thank you very much.
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the auspicious occasion of the 97th Anniversary of the Independence Day of Afghanistan
19 August 2016