In both China and the Western world, the number 12 means a circle. In our bilateral relations, 12 means we are at a critical moment to uplift the already booming China-New Zealand relations to a new height. In this sense, it is a great privilege for me to serve as the 12th Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand.
Four decades ago, we reached out our hands of goodwill and friendship across the Pacific to each other. Over the years, we have made our bilateral relationship a model out of China's ties with all Western countries. Together we achieved several firsts, which became a proper term describing our bilateral relations and had been spoken highly of by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae when he accepted my Letter of Credence on November 13.
In the month since my arrival, I have personally experienced two new firsts. One is China Southern Airline's inaugural flight of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Guangzhou to Auckland in October.
And the other is that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China became the first Chinese registered bank in New Zealand on November 19.
This year, China, for the first time, became the largest trading partner and remains the largest source of foreign students and second largest tourist market of New Zealand.
The political mutual trust and the trade co-operation of mutual benefit become the "double engines" of this partnership, as described by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he met for the second time this year with Prime Minister John Key during Apec meetings.
The background of the fast-growing China-New Zealand relations is that China's relations with the rest of the world have undergone historic changes and China is increasingly integrated into the international community. The success of China's reform and opening-up - a response to the world trend - has been achieved through its active participation in the common development of the world.
With its reform over the past 35 years, China has lifted most of its population out of poverty. During this period, it has also grown from the 10th to the 2nd largest economy, which can be seen as one of the most profound changes of the world since the end of the Cold War.
China's fast growth has served as a key engine of the world economy.
Changes make the world how it is. They are also the answer to how countries should face chances and challenges alike. On November 12, just one day before I presented my credentials, the 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee approved a decision on "Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms" and unveiled a new reform blueprint to push forward the development of China.
Reform is the key word of the session, with 55 detailed tasks covering 15 areas, each with far-reaching significance once implemented.
The reform of the economic system is the focus of all the efforts to deepen the all-round reform, and the core solution is a proper relationship between government and the market, leaving the market to play a more decisive role in resource allocation.
China will continue to further expand the opening-up to the outside world, to share opportunities with other countries and create common prosperity together. An important experience we drew from the process of reform and opening-up over the past years is that we can't achieve sustainable development if we fail to share it with others. With fists clenching comes nothing, while opening arms brings opportunities.
The Asia-Pacific is the world's fastest-growing and most promising region. As an Asia-Pacific country, China's peaceful development should start from this region.
China has taken a new set of diplomatic approaches accentuating the need to forge better ties with neighbours, set up a new pattern of relationships between leading countries, and build a community of common destiny, in an effort to contribute to peace and common prosperity.
President Xi pointed out last month at the Conference on the Diplomatic Work with Neighbouring Countries that China needs to develop closer ties, more friendly political relations, stronger economic bonds, deeper security co-operation and closer people-to-people contacts with neighbouring countries and to enable them to benefit more from China's development and prosperity.
A single flower does not make a spring. With China on its way to a well-off society by 2020, there lie huge opportunities for the outside world and of course for New Zealand.
After my arrival, I am deeply impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the New Zealand Government and its people to this relationship. These are the sound foundations of our relations and they inspire me to think smarter and bigger.
I have great confidence that, standing as one, we can make the comprehensive partnership between our two countries even better and the common community of fate between us strengthened for the benefit of our two peoples.
• Wang Lutong is the Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand.