Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand Wu Xi (3rd L) and Mayor of Wellington Andy Foster (3rd R) attend a face mask handover ceremony held in Wellington, New Zealand, on July 31, 2020. China's southeastern city of Xiamen has donated a total of 50,000 surgical face masks to Wellington to help the New Zealand capital in its fight against COVID-19. [Photo/Xinhua]
China's southeastern city of Xiamen has donated a total of 50,000 surgical face masks to Wellington to help the New Zealand capital in its fight against COVID-19.
Chinese Ambassador Wu Xi handed over the donation to Wellington City Council and Mayor of Wellington Andy Foster at a ceremony here on Friday.
The ambassador viewed the donation as a symbol of the profound friendship between Xiamen and Wellington for the past 33 years.
"The friendship between Xiamen and Wellington proves that city level cooperation is vitally important for the growth of overall bilateral relations," she said.
"Close cooperation between cities, whether in the past, present or future, builds stronger foundations for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and New Zealand. Sister city relationships will play a more significant role in strengthening the friendship between our two countries in the future," she added.
During the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, local New Zealand enterprises, New Zealand-Chinese communities and local Chambers of Commerce collected and donated tens of thousands of face masks to China.
When COVID-19 cases were detected in New Zealand, China responded by sending epidemic prevention materials to New Zealand. Medical experts from the two countries held a video conference on the pandemic response in early July to share knowledge, skills and experiences.
The ambassador believed that the friendship between the two peoples has become even stronger as a result of "the shared challenges we have faced together."
Mayor of Wellington Andy Foster said it is wonderful to be able to come together as friends, and to be able to give a gift and receive a gift. In February 2020, Foster sent a letter of support to Xiamen Mayor and the people of Xiamen when the provincial capital of southeast China's Fujian province was at its peak of COVID-19 outbreak.
"This time, we are the receiver and Xiamen is the giver. For that we are very very grateful. Wellington greatly values our international friendships," said the mayor, who look forward to deepening that relationship in the years to come.
"We have been through unprecedented time as what we are being through. Both of our nations have come through this in a different ways, and both of us two nations have handled it very very well. We are in much better position than so many countries around the world," the mayor said.
President of Wellington Xiamen Association Janet Andrew said that since its inception in 1987 the sister city relationship between Wellington and Xiamen has taken many forms, including industry partnerships between Centre Port and Xiamen Port, Victoria University and Xiamen University, city libraries, and several secondary schools; the New Zealand Section, provincial supermarket chain Seashine's section dedicated to New Zealand food and beverage imports; numerous education and cultural exchanges; an established annual doctor's exchange; a Wellington garden and renamed street in Xiamen; and numerous reciprocal mayoral visits.
Wellington City Council said in a statement that the face masks will be kept in reserve at the city's Emergency Operations Center.
The distribution of the masks is to be managed by the council. They will be used where there is an identified need for frontline workers or people in the city requiring protection, the council said.