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Friendship through Mutual Learning
——Speech by Ambassador Yue Xiaoyong at the 17th Chinese Bridge Competition for College Students

President Andrew Deeks,

Professor Wang Liming,

Mr. Zhang Wei,

Teachers and students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

First of all, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all the prize winners in today's Chinese Bridge competition. Your performance is very impressive and really excellent. I would also like to congratulate all the participants in today's competition. As a modern Chinese saying goes, "Friendship first, competition second". Through this competition, what you have earned is courage and friendship. Therefore, all those who have come to participate in today's competition are already winners.

I would especially like to take this opportunity to commend President Andrew Deeks for his remarks just now, which are wonderful, far-sighted and courageous. The current changing international situation provides us with challenges as well as opportunities. To meet the challenges and seize the opportunities, it is important for all countries to come together to embrace modernization, globalization, openness and inclusiveness for a shared future and for a better world to our younger generations.

The name "Chinese Bridge" has profound and manifold connotations. In Chinese, we have a term "Hearts Binding Bridge (lianxinqiao)", which means a bridge for the unity of people from different ethnic groups. We also have a legendary "queqiao", a magpie bridge in our fairy tale which made it possible for a young couple Niulang and Zhiniu to meet with each other across Milky Way every year. As for our Chinese Bridge, it is a bridge for language, a bridge for culture, and a bridge for the hearts between peoples from different countries.

The Chinese language is one of the languages with the longest history in the world, and the development of this language has witnessed the growth of human civilization and the growth of the Chinese nation. It is not only a national language but is increasingly becoming a contemporary lingua franca for all the peoples in the world. Meanwhile, the modern Chinese language and the Chinese culture have drawn upon the development of other languages and cultures across the world. Now, with China's growth in our own reform and opening-up, with the Chinese people's striving for modernization and rejuvenation of our nation, the Chinese language is undergoing a process of new revitalization. After 40 years of reform and opening-up, the Chinese people have new confidence that we can and we will continue to contribute what we have in China to the rest of the world, and to build together with other nations a shared future for mankind, a future of peace, prosperity and well-being. Now we are engaged in the pursuit of the Chinese Dream, and we believe that this dream will be shared by all other peoples in the world. As the theme of today's competition "One World, One Family" vividly manifests, the well-being of the Chinese people and the well-being of all humanity are naturally intertwined while the Chinese Dream and the World Dream are closely interlinked.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Now I would like to say something about the lovely country and the lovely people here in Ireland. This June I will start the third year of my term here. I have been very happy here with the Irish people and with all of you. Like China, Ireland also enjoys a long history. Some historic relics here like the Newgrange are even older than the Egyptian pyramids. With a shining and splendid culture, Ireland has contributed substantially to the culture of Europe and the culture of the world. Here people use both Irish and English, and we all know that the Irish English is very beautiful, giving rise to many world-famous writers and playwrights. We believe that by meeting demands here from Irish people in helping to teach Chinese in Ireland, we can also learn a lot from the Irish people, her beautiful language and rich culture.

All those efforts are bearing bumper fruits. In recent years, cooperation and exchanges between our two countries have become increasingly dynamic not only in terms of political high-level dialogues and exchanges, but also in the fields of trade and investment, tourism, culture, education, science and technology, which has brought about growing benefits to the people in both countries. On St. Patrick's Day, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Mr. Simon Coveney met with our State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing. The meeting was very successful, and among other things, both sides announced the direct air-link between Beijing and Dublin. The Irish government also announced the further easing of visa procedures for Chinese tourists to Ireland. As we all know, Mandarin Chinese will be introduced as a Leaving Certificate subject in Ireland in 2020. This will surely make us understand each other better and trust each other better, and lead to a brighter and more promising future in the cooperation between our two countries.

Now you all can see that the Chinese Bridge Competition has already transcended the realm of a language contest unto a rich cultural exchange for mutual understanding and friendship. I would like to avail of this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to President Deeks and your team, to all the faculty and students here, to UCD Confucius Institute and UCC Confucius Institute, and to all the Chinese language teachers and volunteers for your commitment and dedication to promoting Chinese language and culture and holding China-Ireland exchange activities. I am sure that with our concerted efforts China-Ireland cooperation and friendship will be greatly cemented.

I wish the Chinese Bridge Competition greater success next year and in the years to come.

Thank you very much!

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