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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Wu Ken at the Reception Marking the 45th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations at Ambassadorial Level between China and the Netherlands
2017/05/19

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends,

On this special day, it is a great honor to have you here at the Chinese Embassy to celebrate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level between China and the Netherlands. What you have seen on the screens just now was the grand welcoming ceremony upon Wu Wen and Xing Ya, the two Giant Pandas’ arrival in the Netherlands last month. The luxurious treatment they received—escorted by dozens of police cars and motors—was comparable to that of heads of state, which was marvelous and impressive. The arrival of the Giant Pandas, together with the grand ceremony hosted by the Dutch side has become a new landmark in the history of the China-Netherlands friendship. It demonstrates that the China-Netherlands relationship has, after 45 years’ development, reached its prime time in the history and entered into the “fast track” of comprehensive, all-dimensional and multi-level development.

In this hall, some carefully-chosen pictures are also displayed today. Each of them reflects a historic moment of our bilateral relations over the past 45 years. Walking among them, I feel like traveling back in time and could not help recalling the history of the China-Netherlands friendship. Although located far away from each other, China and the Netherlands have already started trade and cultural exchanges through the“Maritime Silk Road” as early as over 400 years ago. The Netherlands was one of the first Western countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China. During the past 45 years of Ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations, the China-Netherlands relations have kept moving forward despite the volatile international situation. These 45 years, compared with the 400 years, only compose a very short period of time, but it is within this short period that we have gained the most fruitful achievements in the history of the China-Netherlands relations.

The past 45 years have witnessed the deepening of our mutual trust. With the frequent high-level visits between our two countries, our political trust and strategic coordination have been continuously strengthened. Princess Beatrix visited China as early as in 1977 and she was one of the first royal members from Europe to visit China. And later in 1999 she visited China again as Queen, preluding the boom of our bilateral high-level exchanges in the new century. Since year 2000, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander has separately attended the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics 2008 and activities of Shanghai Expo 2010, while Prime Minister Balkenende has visited China for four times and Prime Minister Rutte for twice. Especially in 2014 and 2015, with the historic exchange visits by President Xi Jinping and King Willem-Alexander, both sides decided to establish an “Open and Pragmatic Partnership for Comprehensive Cooperation”, which laid a solid strategic foundation for the future development of our bilateral relations.

The past 45 years have also witnessed our mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation. The bilateral trade volume grew from a mere US$69 million in 1972 to US$67.2 billion in 2016, an increase of almost 1000 times in 45 years. Since 2000, the Netherlands has been keeping as China’s Top 3 trading partners in the EU, and China is now the Netherlands’ second largest trading partner outside the EU. Today, almost 1/4 of the freight to the Port of Rotterdam comes from China. Almost 1/3 of formula milk powder imported by China is from the Netherlands. Our bilateral investments grow out of nothing. The Netherlands has nearly 3,200 investment projects in China, which makes the Netherlands the third largest investor from the EU. Meanwhile, China has invested almost 600 projects in the Netherlands which cover various industries and create about 10 thousand jobs.

The past 45 years have moreover witnessed the deepening of mutual interaction and understanding. 45 years ago, no more than 1,000 people traveled between our two countries each year, but today the amount of people-to-people exchange has reached 1.3 million per year. 45 years ago, the Netherlands saw few Chinese tourists. Today almost 300,000 Chinese tourists come to the Netherlands every year, which makes China the biggest tourist source of the Netherlands among Asian countries. With the deepening of mutual understanding, our two peoples are eager to learn the language and culture of each other. So far two Confucius Institutes have been established in Leiden University and Groningen University respectively, and the third one will be unveiled this year in the Zuyd University of Applied Science. At present, 10 Dutch secondary schools have already set up Confucius Classroom and the number will get 13 this year. In China, two universities have established the major of Dutch language studies. About 9,000 Chinese students are studying in the Netherlands, which makes China the second largest origin of overseas students of the Netherlands. Last year the Chinese Cultural Center was unveiled successfully in The Hague. The annual event of “Happy Chinese New Year” and Chinese flower floater in the Flower Parade bring much joy and happiness to the Dutch people. The series of cultural and people-to-people exchanges have enhanced the understanding of the two peoples, further consolidated the public and social foundation for the development of bilateral relations.

Dear guests and friends,

At this historic moment, my heart is full of gratitude. First I wish to express my gratitude to Queen Juliana, Prime Minister Willem Drees and Prime Minister Barend Biesheuvel, with their far-sighted strategic visions, the Netherlands became one of the first Western countries to recognize New China and established diplomatic relations with China at chargé d’affaires level in 1954 and upgraded it to the ambassadorial level later in 1972. I wish to express my gratitude to Queen Beatrix who paid two visits to China, which boosted up the China-Netherlands relationship in both countries. I wish to extend my gratitude to King Willem-Alexander, who has visited China for many times and together with President Xi Jinping, raised the bilateral ties to an unprecedented height. My gratitude also goes to Prime Minister Joop den Uyl, Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, Prime Minister Wim Kok, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Prime Minister Mark Rutte for their consistent efforts in developing relations with China. I wish to as well take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to our Dutch friends from all circles present or not present today and also to the overseas Chinese in the Netherlands who have contributed a lot to the China-Netherlands relations. You are the facilitators, promoters and witnesses, as well as the true backbone of the China-Netherlands friendship. Without your efforts and contribution, we would never have made such great achievements in the China-Netherlands relations.

Dear guests and friends,

In 2017, both China and the Netherlands will embrace important opportunities of development. The Netherlands is going to form a new cabinet and China will hold the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party. Based on the experience of the past 45-years’ development of the China-Netherlands relations, we hope to carry forward our cause and forge ahead into the future with the Dutch side to push the China-Netherlands Partnership for Comprehensive Cooperation to a new stage.

For this, we should, first of all, further strengthen the basis of mutual trust with strategic vision. 45 years ago, facing the complicated international situation, the leaders of our two countries, with a strategic and long-term perspective, upgraded our diplomatic relationship to the ambassadorial level. The fact has proved that the 45 years of our ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations have not only brought tangible benefits to both countries and peoples, but also made a positive impact on the China-EU relations and world peace and development as well. In 2014,while receiving President Xi Jinping’s state visit, King Willem-Alexander said that “Cooperation starts from mutual understanding”. In the future, both sides should further enhance exchanges in all areas and at all levels including the state leaders, governments, parliaments and local authorities, and constantly deepen the cultural and people-to-people exchanges so as to build unbreakable bonds of friendship between our two countries and peoples and make mutual trust the cornerstone of sustainable development of bilateral relations.

Secondly, we should forge new highlights of mutual beneficial and win-win cooperation with the open and pragmatic spirit. Now, China is striding towards the magnificent “Two Centenary Goals” and the “Belt and Road” Initiative is being steadily promoted and implemented. It is an opportunity for China and also for the whole world. In the context of the rising isolationism and trade protectionism, President Xi Jinping made it clear that “China will firmly support the economic globalization” when attending the World Economic Forum held in Davos early this year, which was widely praised including most Dutch people. The Netherlands, as a strong supporter of economic globalization, has always adhered to the position of free trade. China and the Netherlands share the same view on this issue, which not only brings new opportunities for bilateral pragmatic cooperation, but also provides wide space for joint efforts in promoting economic globalization and opposing trade protectionism. In the future, both sides should adhere to the open and pragmatic position. In the cooperation area, we should tap the potential, explore new mechanisms and foster new growth points, not only from the bilateral but also from the global angles, so as to further achieve mutual benefits and win-win results and infuse inexhaustible source of strength for the development of bilateral relations.

Thirdly, We should maintain the stable and healthy development of bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect. Dear guests, here I would like to recall two quotes from the Joint Communiqué of China-Netherlands’ Agreement on Upgrading Diplomatic Relationship 45 years ago. The first one is “Both governments recognize principles of mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs and mutual benefits. Based on this foundation, they believe that further enhancement of governmental and people-to-people relationship will be of mutual benefits”. The second one is “ The Chinese Government reaffirms that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China. The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands respects this stand of the Chinese Government”. From above quotes we can see that mutual respect is one of the prerequisites for us to establish ambassadorial-level diplomatic relationship. Only by sticking to it, can the China-Netherlands relations enjoy stable and healthy development. Given our difference in social system, history and culture, disputes and problems are inevitable in bilateral relations. But I am delighted to see that both sides think that the current bilateral relations are becoming mature. We can not only talk about progress and achievements, but also exchange views on differences and problems in a candid manner and the channel of dialogue is always smooth and effective. Therefore, I believe that the China-Netherlands relations can surely move forward on a stable and healthy track if both sides can stick to the principle of mutual respect and treating each other on equal footing.

Dear guests and friends,

A few days later, Wu Wen and Xing Ya will make their public debut. Just as what I said in their welcoming ceremony, “It's a small step for this pair of giant pandas, but a big step for the history of China-Netherlands relations”. We “three ambassadors” will work together to continue the joint efforts with all Dutch friends to push the China-Netherlands relations a great leap forward and bring more benefits to both countries and peoples. Thank you!

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