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Remarks by Chinese Consul General Dong Zhihua at the Double Ninth Festival Event hosted by Australia China Friendship Society WA Branch

Dear Nancy,

Distinguished Senior Members,


It is a great pleasure for me to celebrate the Double Ninth Festival with the senior members and dear friends of Australia China Friendship Society WA Branch(ACFSWA). ACFSWA was founded in June 1970 by seven seniors, and ever since its formation the Branch has been actively promoting understanding between China and Australia with the goal of establishing diplomatic relations and promoting friendship. During the time when there was little knowledge about China or its culture, it took real courage, vision and enthusiasm as well as true love towards China and Chinese people to build up the Branch and work selflessly to enhance cultural understanding and people-to-people linkages. All the seniors present today have made tremendous contributions to the development of ACFSWA and China-Australia friendship.

Double Ninth Festival or Chongyang Festival is the Senior Citizens' Festival. Since the pronunciation of "nine" in Chinese is the same as "eternal" or "forever", Double Ninth Festival is regarded as an auspicious day to wish longevity and health upon our senior citizens, and people usually visit or send greetings to the senior members of their family. To promote respect for the elderly, Double Ninth Festival was officially designated by the Chinese Government as Senior's Day in the year of 1989. This year the Double Ninth Festival falls on 7 October which is very close to the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China. To avoid clashes with Chinese National Day activities, we celebrate this year's Chongyang Festival much earlier.

We celebrate the Double Ninth Festival together today to pay tribute to the senior members of ACFSWA. I am delighted to see that all the seniors are in such good health and high spirit. Your warmth and enthusiasm have lightened up this winter afternoon, and I sense inexhaustible passion and life in you. On behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Perth, I heartily thank you for your life-long dedication to China-Australia friendship.Your stories of visiting or working in China are so touching. Chinese People never forget old friends. We will always hold dear to our hearts your friendliness and contributions, and the door of the Chinese Consulate General in Perth will always be open to you.

A traditional poem written by Wang Wei during the Tang Dynasty is often quoted in relation to the Chongyang Festival, which reads, "As a lonely stranger in a foreign land, I pine at every holiday-my homesickness increases. Far away, I know my brothers have reached the mountain peak; they are wearing dogwood, but one is not present." As a diplomat posted abroad, I also suffer homesickness and on the Chongyang Fesitival I sincerely wish all of you a very enjoyable and colorful life after retirement, and may all of us have a heart for ever young.

Thank you!

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