(October 2, 2007)
Mr. Alan Doss, SRSG of UNMIL
Mr. Jordan Ryan, Deputy SRSG of UNMIL
Lt. Gen. Chikadibia Obiakor, Force Commander
Mr. Stephen L. Lieberman, Director of Administration
Mr. Mohammed Alhassan, UN Police Commissioner
Maj. Gen. Muhammad Tahir, Deputy Force Commander
Brig. Gen. John Forkuo, Force Chief of Staff
Officers and men from UNMIL,
Members of the Chinese community,
Let me start my remarks by warmly welcoming all of you to this cultural event to be given by the Festival Drum and Lantern Art Troupe from An Hui Province which is in the eastern part of China. The Festival Drum and Lantern performance is one of the numerous folk performing arts in China and has a long history of over one thousand years. It is a combination of dance, music and Song. It is widely welcomed at home and abroad for its passionate and graceful style.
The Art Troupe is jointly invited by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of Liberia and the Chinese Embassy and is dispatched by the Chinese Ministry of Culture. The purpose of this visit is threefold. The first is to promote cultural exchanges between China and Liberia. The second is to show China's confidence in Liberia. Like my President's visit to Liberia early this year, this visit is also meant to show to the world as well as the Chinese business community that Liberia is now a safe and nice place to go and to do business, so as to help Liberia to attract foreign investments which can generate badly needed job opportunities for the people and revenue for the government. After all, durable peace can only be built on development. Only when investors come in, can peacekeepers go home to join their loved ones. The third is to bring a little more cultural life to the Liberian people, to add joy to the celebration of the Chinese National Day which falls on October 1st and to console and pay respect to the UN peacekeepers as you are the heroes in maintaining peace and stability in Liberia. This special cultural event is given to show our appreciation of and solidarity with UNMIL.
This is the last performance during their trip to Africa. They performed in Ghana for five days before they got here. The day after their arrival, they performed at China's National Day reception on September 29th. Then they entertained the Monrovian public on the Providence Island on September 30th. Yesterday, they traveled all the way through the bumpy roads to Buchanan and performed for the local people there. All the shows were fervently received by the audiences. Their hard work, excellent performance and true professionalism deserve our big applause. And we wish their performance tonight another success.
It would be unfair for me to conclude my remarks without saying a "big thank you" to UNMIL. UNMIL contributed a great deal to the successful visit to Liberia by my President HU Jintao in February this year. This time again, UNMIL has provided much of the needed logistic support to the visit of the cultural troupe. You have provided them with accommodation, transportation, generating facilities, tents and security protection and etc. Without your kind assistance, the visit could not be as smooth and successful as it has been. So let's put our hands together to give UNMIL a big applause too.
I wish to disclose that there are many amateur artists in the Chinese peacekeeping contingency. They will perform together with professional ones tonight. I hope you will all enjoy the oriental performing art from China.