BEIJING, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- As the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit arrives, many foreign leaders have sent their Chinese New Year greetings to the country, the Chinese people and overseas Chinese, and expressed their hope for stronger cooperation with China towards a better future.
"My dear brothers and sisters from China and all Chinese communities around the world: I wish you all a happy Lunar New Year and a prosperous Spring Festival 2023," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement released by the Presidency.
"As we enter the New Year, we are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of South Africa and the People's Republic of China in 1998," he noted, adding that South Africa will succeed China as chair and host of the next BRICS Summit.
"These occasions provide ample cause for celebration," he said.
In a video message released on Saturday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended his warm congratulations on behalf of the government and people of Zimbabwe, and on his own behalf, saying that "the new season offers an opportunity to solidify the strong bonds of friendship and solidarity that exist between our two countries and peoples."
Wishing all the Chinese "good health, prosperity and every success (in) the new year," Mnangagwa concluded the message with the Mandarin Chinese "Chun Jie Kuai Le! (Happy Spring Festival!)"
In a video message published Saturday, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe wished the people and government of China a prosperous Year of the Rabbit.
Meanwhile, Dinesh Gunawardena, the country's prime minister, said in his video message that China is a "true trustworthy friend" of Sri Lanka.
"Even in the present economic crisis in Sri Lanka, China has assured extraordinary special support for us to overcome economic challenges," he said, wishing the Chinese people "a very happy, joyous and prosperous new year."
In his message sent Sunday to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wished the Chinese people prosperity, progress, happiness and good health.
He said he looks forward to working with China to continuously expand mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, and further enhance the already close cooperative partnership between the Maldives and China.
"On behalf of our people I wish you (China and the Chinese people) good health, luck, and many new economic achievements," said Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic when attending the central celebration welcoming the Year of the Rabbit held at the Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade on Saturday.
She pledged to further strengthen the "iron-clad friendship" between Serbia and China.
In a letter extending her Chinese New Year greeting to the Chinese people in Denmark and China, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen noted that "the Rabbit symbolizes gentleness and kindness," to many people.
"China and Denmark have many shared interests, not least when it comes to dealing with climate change. We are facing mounting global challenges that can only be overcome by joint efforts," she said, hoping that "this year we can further strengthen our relations in areas such as the green transition and trade."
In a separate letter, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen also wished all Chinese people in Denmark and China a happy Spring Festival and Year of the Rabbit.
Noting that Denmark attaches great importance to relations with China as the two sides have many shared interests, he said "I look forward to strengthening our trade relations, people-to-people ties, and cooperation on creating a safer, greener, and more sustainable world."
In a recent video message, Lucie Milebou Aubusson, president of the Gabonese Senate, sent sincere wishes of health, happiness and prosperity to "the brotherly Chinese people" as the president of the Senate and on behalf of the upper house of parliament.
As this year marks the 49th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, the top official said she is "delighted by our deepening ties and parliamentary diplomacy, marked by multiple visits and exchanges between our two parliaments."
"May the Year of the Rabbit be the source of opportunity for our two peoples. May peace, harmony and equality be with us," she added.
While celebrating the Spring Festival at the Chinese embassy in his country, Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape wished the Chinese people a happy and healthy new year, and hoped for sustained development of bilateral ties and practical cooperation in various fields.
As rabbit symbolizes smartness and swiftness in the Chinese culture, Papua New Guinea hopes to swiftly grasp the opportunities brought by China in the new year and harvest more fruits in sectors such as bilateral high-level exchanges, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges, Marape said.
Fijian Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sitiveni Rabuka also attended the celebrative activities organized Sunday by the Chinese embassy and overseas Chinese in the island country. He extended New Year greeting to the Chinese people, and said Fiji expects to set up closer and multiple cooperation with China.
(Xinhua reporters Zhang Baoping in Harare, Shi Yu in Kinshasa, Che Hongliang in Colombo, Lin Jing in Copenhagen and Shi Zhongyu in Belgrade also contributed to this story.)