Address of HER ROYAL HIGHNESS, THE PRINCESS ROYAL, PRINCESS SALOTE MAFILE’O PILOLEVU TUITA
On the occasion of the 5th Conference of the America and Oceania Friendship Forum
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen -
May I firstly extend tribute to the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the Jilin Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, for inviting the Tonga-China Friendship Association to participate in the 5th Conference of the America and Oceania Friendship Forum and for inviting my participation in this prestigious opening ceremony. It is a great pleasure and honour for me and the delegation from the Kingdom of Tonga to be in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province. In the little time we have been here, I believe we are in a special part of this vibrant country that combines the ageless culture, history, and modern development that is synonymous with China’s economic power, and which is much revered by the world today.
In the time I have this morning, I wish to share with you my perspective on the conference theme, “understanding, sharing and win-win” as it relates to the experience of the Tonga-China Friendship Association over the past years. The Tonga-China Friendship Association, similar to other established friendship associations and societies, aims to foster friendship, cultural understanding, and economic cooperation for mutual benefit at a people to people level between Tonga and China. For this reason, we count it a privilege to be in China to participate in a forum that demonstrates the breadth and depth of China’s spirit of friendship with many other countries. We are indeed very happy that China, through China’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, has recently established people to people friendship ties with Fiji and Samoa, and we certainly encourage other Pacific countries to establish friendship ties with China. I applaud my Pacific brothers and sisters from Fiji and Samoa in attendance. I know you will enjoy the forum as this type of person to person dialogue is the essence of fostering long lasting friendship and cultural understanding between different countries globally.
The Tonga-China Friendship Association was established in April 2009, a relatively young organization, and we first attended the Friendship Forum in 2010. Since then, we have pursued numerous cultural exchanges and economic projects with various organizations in China. The theme of this year’s conference, “understanding, sharing and win-win”, is extremely appropriate in the context of developing and maintaining mutually beneficial ties at a people to people level. This approach has shaped Tonga’s people to people friendship tie with China over the past 2 years and has paved the way for strengthened economic cooperation and deepened cultural understanding between our two peoples. This progress has been made possible through the assistance of Madam Li and China’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, for which I acknowledge with sincere appreciation.
The opportunity to collaborate, share resources and knowledge at a people to people level across countries is made more profoundly important when we consider the global issues we collectively face as citizens of the one global community. Global issues such as providing quality education and health services; ensuring adequate financial resources to enable national development; and assisting citizens to achieve their economic and social aspirations, is a common challenge for both developed and developing countries. Hence, a deepened understanding and cooperation at a people to people level across countries cannot be underestimated. It can provide the critical bridges for overcoming differences and enhancing mutual trust and respect, which will lead to greater unity and confidence of societies across the world to support progress and prosperity for all. As David Rockefeller once said, “the best hope for peace and prosperity in the world is greater cooperation among nations”. I believe this is the principle that is central to China’s people to people friendship ties with foreign countries. In this same context, the conference theme succinctly captures the objective of friendship ties, which is to ensure that at a people to people level –
We Understand each other in order to respect our values and cultures;
We Share our resources and knowledge to assist our individual development; and
We work towards the mutual benefit of the friendship or win-win outcomes.
The objective of people to people friendship ties, and indeed the theme of the 5th Conference of the America and Oceania Friendship Forum, reminds me of a Chinese proverb that states -
“I see, I forget….I hear, I remember….I do, I understand”. In applying this proverb to people to people friendships, it suggests that building positive and cooperative connections at a people to people level depends largely on the action we take and less on the words we speak. The proverb further suggests that people to people friendship ties is a multifaceted issue that requires the concerted effort of all parties to achieve the end purpose. The objectives of friendship ties can be achieved from having a clear purpose in the areas of exchange and cooperation that draws on the strengths of both peoples. However, the true potential of friendship ties can only be achieved through committed actions to build sustainable friendships grounded on enhanced understanding to transcend our differences in social systems and ideology, in order to achieve mutual benefit.
In closing, allow me to challenge us all to be compelled enough with the conference theme of “understanding, sharing and win-win”, to invest our time; our knowledge; our tolerance; and our collectives resources, to advance friendship ties for the benefit of our respective peoples in the global community we are all citizens of.