Speech of H.E. Ambassador Xiao Jianguo on the Handover Ceremony of the China-Timor-Leste Friendship Football Field
31 August 2022
H.E. Mr. Armindo Maia, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports,
H.E. Eng. Abr?o Saldanha, Secretary of State for Youth and Sport,
H.E. Ms. Gilhermina Filonmena Saldanha Ribeiro, Administrator of Dili Municipality,
H.E. Mr. Henrique da Costa, Commander of Dili Municipal Police Station,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor to attend this ceremony. Today is the Timor-Leste Popular Consultation Day. On this special day, we have this special ceremony to officially handover the China-Timor-Leste Friendship Football Field to the Timor-Leste Government and kick off the first game after this rehabilitated project. I think it has a significant meaning. I would like to thank the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and the Secretary of State for Youth and Sports for their concern and support for the football field project. I would like to thank Dili Municipality and Dili Police for organizing the football teams to hold the first match on the newly-built pitch. I also thank the contractor Shanghai Construction Group for completing the project in a short time. In addition, the project also includes a basketball pitch, which will be completed shortly.
In early June, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a successful visit to Timor-Leste and reached broad and significant common understanding with Timor-Leste state leaders. The visit delivered fruitful outcomes and played an important role in promoting the development of bilateral relations. During the visit, I unveiled the plate of China-Timor-Leste Friendship Football Field with the Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, which was witnessed by Foreign Ministers of our two countries. The completion and handover of the football field to Timor-Leste is a concrete embodiment of the implementation of the achievements of State Councilor Wang Yi’s visit.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Timor-Leste’s resumption of independence and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Timor-Leste and China. Over the past 20 years, the two sides have supported and trusted each other, and jointly pursued common development. Ties between Timor-Leste and China have grown into a model for equal treatment, mutual support and win-win cooperation between large and small countries. The football field is also a tribute to the 20th anniversary, a manifestation of our traditional friendship.
Football is a popular sport among young Timorese. I am glad to hear that Timor-Leste National Football Team took the third place in this year’s ASEAN Football Federation U-23 Championship. The 2022 Qatar World Cup is about to be held. On June 11, the FIFA World Cup Trophy arrived Timor-Leste for a touring exhibition and set off an upsurge among the Timorese fans. The China-Timor-Leste Friendship Football Field is currently the only artificial turf football pitch in Timor-Leste. I believe it will give the football fans a new different sport experience, and will attract more participation of Timorese people in football, and promote the development of Timor-Leste’s football cause.
In fact, educational and cultural cooperation including sports is an important part of friendly relations between Timor-Leste and China. China has awarded “Chinese Government Scholarships” to nearly 300 Timorese students since 2006, for them to study in China, and “Chinese Ambassador Scholarships” to 185 outstanding Timorese students from the local poor families since 2019. Not long ago, with the relaxing pandemic prevention measures in China, all international students including Timor-Leste can return to China to continue their studies, and 8 Timorese students have already gone back to China. I believe the haze of the pandemic will eventually dissipate, and exchanges between China and Timor-Leste in various fields, including culture and sports, will be back to normal and eventually usher in greater development.
Youth represents hope, youth creates tomorrow. It is hoped that the China-Timor-Leste Friendship Football Field becomes a platform for Timorese youth, not only to do physical exercises but also to inherit our traditional friendship. I’m looking forward to the youths from both countries upholding the long-term friendship, enhancing exchanges and working together to make more contributions to the common development of the two countries for a better future!
Again, my congratulations to the completion and handover of the China-Timor-Leste Friendship Football Field. Thanks!