The Chinese community in Rwanda gathered on Thursday, January 12, to celebrate the Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the new year 2023 will begin on January 22, but the Chinese community decided to hold early celebrations. ALSO READ: Chinese medics treat over 12,000 Rwandan patients In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of 12 animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. So the animals will have a year dedicated to them once every 12 years, in a cycle. This year is the year of the rabbit. The celebrations for ushering in the new year were held at the Chinese embassy, attended by Chinese nationals living in Rwanda, diplomats, as well as Rwandans including government officials. Speaking at the event, the Ambassador of China to Rwanda, Wang Xuekun, said the celebration dates back to more than 3000 ago, bearing Chinese people’s aspirations for a better life and pursuit for harmony, happiness, peace and prosperity. “I would like to extend sincere new year greetings and best wishes to all our guests and, through you, to all friends in Rwanda, to fellow Chinese community, wishing everyone happiness and success in the coming year,” he said. Reflecting on last year, Wang said it was a significant one for his country as the Communist Party of China (CPC) successfully convened its 20th National Congress and elected a new Central Committee with President Xi Jinping at its core, and drew an ambitious blueprint for building a modern socialist country in all respects through a Chinese path to modernization. “It is a clear call for all Chinese people to forge ahead on a new journey. During the year, the Chinese economy has remained the second largest in the world, with GDP expected to exceed 17.4 trillion US dollars,” he noted. “China successfully hosted the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. China's 3 space station was fully completed. China's first large passenger aircraft, C919, was delivered. And the Baihetan hydropower station, the second largest in the world, went into full operation,” he added. Talking about China-Africa relations, Wang noted that during the last year, cooperation has been elevated across the board with the implementation of “the nine programs” of China-Africa cooperation, and 4 supported Africa’s self-sustained development. “We have taken the lead in publicly supporting the inclusion of the African Union in G20 and have continued to encourage Africa to play a bigger global role. The past year also witnessed fruitful cooperation between China and Rwanda in various sectors, including trade, infrastructure, agriculture, technology, health, education, and culture. China cancelled a debt of 7.1 million US dollars to support Rwanda’s growth,” he said. In the same year, China partnered with Rwanda to start construction works to expand Masaka Hospital, which will become one of the biggest hospitals in Rwanda. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Vincent Biruta, who was the guest of honour at the event told the attendees praised the relationship between Rwanda and China, saying it has advanced into a great friendship that has brought about countless initiatives between the two countries. “Rwanda considers China as a strong partner that has contributed to the social economic development of the country in various sectors that are of key priority including infrastructure, health, energy, education, to mention a few,” he said. “In terms of trade and investment, China is one of the top partners of Rwanda with imports and exports equivalent to close to one billion US dollars in 2022,” he added.