习近平向第八届中俄博览会致贺信
习近平向第八届中俄博览会致贺信
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China refutes misinterpretation of ambassador's picture in Kiribati

Source: Xinhua | 2020-08-21

BEIJING, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday refuted misinterpretations of a picture showing the Chinese ambassador to Kiribati attending a local welcoming ceremony, emphasizing that this move was out of respect for hospitality and tradition.

The picture, taken when ambassador Tang Songgen arrived in Kiribati's Marakei island for his first trip there since the two countries resumed diplomatic ties in September 2019, was hyped up by some U.S. and Australian officials.

Considering the warm requests of the local government and people, as well as his respect for Kiribati's culture, ambassador Tang finally agreed to accept the welcome ceremony featuring a distinctive local custom, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a daily press briefing.

What ambassador Tang was requested to do, as shown in the picture, was the grandest way the island has to welcome guests, as well as a tradition left by the Marakei island's ancestors, Zhao said.

In 1998, the then Australian high commissioner to Kiribati was welcomed in the same way by the local people, said the spokesperson. "Though fully aware of the fact that Kiribati's various islands have their unique customs, some Australians still deliberately smeared China."

China has insisted that all countries, no matter their size, are equal, Zhao said, stressing that with full respect for the Pacific Island countries' local culture and customs, China follows the rule that "a guest should meet the convenience of the host."

The spokesperson added that on social media platforms, people from Kiribati and many Pacific Island countries have expressed their appreciation of the Chinese ambassador for his respect for the local traditions.

"They condemned some people's misinterpretation of the local culture, and attempts to undermine China-Kiribati relations," Zhao said.

He reiterated that any malicious intention to smear China's policy towards, and ties with, the Pacific Island countries will never succeed.

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