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A time to renew friendship and embrace a brighter future

Upon the visit to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Li Keqiang, the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, published a signed article entitled "A time to renew friendship and embrace a brighter future". The full text of the article is as follows:

A time to renew friendship and embrace a brighter future

 

Li Keqiang

Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China 

It is a great pleasure for me to visit the beautiful country of the Netherlands for the first time as Chinese Premier. To me, this country is by no means a strange, faraway land, but a familiar place. About 20 years ago when I was working in a Chinese province, I visited the Netherlands and was deeply impressed by its modern agriculture and thriving tourism, ports and logistics, to name just a few. So this is like a visit with old friends.

Although I haven't had many chances to come back, I have been following the development of this country and that of China-Netherlands relations. I am glad to see continued progress in our bilateral ties and cooperation in recent years, most notably the establishment of an open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation during President Xi Jinping's successful state visit here in 2014. Another milestone was recorded in the history of our relations earlier this year when King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte paid visits to China within two months.

There is a proverb in both Chinese and Dutch which urges people to strike while the iron is hot. I hope my upcoming visit will do the same and promote further progress of the interactions and cooperation between our two countries.

The Netherlands has been associated with many achievements. To historians and economists, it is the birthplace of the world's first share-holding company, first stock exchange and first modern bank. To business leaders, it is home to many renowned multinationals. Humanities scholars admire your country for its contribution to arts and philosophy. In the travelogues of tourists, the Netherlands is the picturesque Garden of Europe and Land of Windmills.

 On the Chinese side, silk and porcelain made in China arrived in this country as early as centuries ago. The Netherlands was among the first western countries to recognize the People's Republic and enter into long-term cooperation on scientific research with us. If we compare our histories and national journeys, we can find similarities in national traits between the Chinese story and the Dutch story.

In the long fight against natural disasters, the Dutch people have built dams and dikes and reclaimed land from the sea to overcome the constraints imposed by the natural environment and make the most of its somewhat limited resources. Through centuries of hard work, your country has accomplished a great transformation from fighting the sea, to harnessing the sea, and to thriving and prospering by the sea. Such an enterprising, pioneering, open and pragmatic spirit is best captured by the motto on your coat of arms - Je Maintiendrai (I will maintain).

For the Chinese nation, it has faced many turmoil and challenges both internal and imposed from the outside through the centuries. But the Chinese people have always emerged stronger by overcoming the difficulties and obstacles and forged a national character of industry, courage and perseverance. Similarly, in the past four decades of reform and opening-up, we have encountered unprecedented risks and challenges; but we stayed the course and never flinched. A long journey is made through taking small steps. If there is one thing that we have learned along the way, it is that we shall always maintain.

Today, facing the headwinds of unilateralism and protectionism as well as the challenges of climate change and terrorism, we need to be clear about the direction where we are going. We should ask ourselves the question: do we opt for openness or stay behind closed doors,go forward or backward?

The Netherlands is a trading nation and China has been pursuing development through opening-up. As beneficiaries of the rules-based multilateral order, our two countries are likely to give similar answers to the above question. We would agree that the answer lies in making a stronger commitment to uphold multilateralism, free trade, economic globalization and an open world economy, and striving to sustain the hard-won global recovery with concrete and concerted efforts. Let's join hands to maintain the Dutch story and the Chinese story and promote world peace and development.

  We need to build on our friendship and further enhance it. This is because we need to rise up to new challenges in the global context. Moreover, the development driven by a new round of reform and opening-up has created new space for cooperation between our countries. As a Dutch saying goes, happiness doubles when you share it. Likewise, opportunities will multiply when we share them.

China and the Netherlands, at different development stages, have much to offer each other economically. Efforts to advance the Belt and Road Initiative will provide more opportunities to leverage the advantageous location of the Netherlands as the gateway to Europe and facilitate connectivity between China and Europe by making full use of the convenient land, sea and air transportation in this country. The boom of new growth drivers and upgrading of the industrial structure in China will cultivate new areas of technological cooperation. Chinese people's pursuit of a better life with higher household spending promises a new market for quality Dutch products. China's innovation-driven development strategy being implemented in full swing will offer new impetus for creative industries in the Netherlands to join in the development of the innovation economy in China. With a host of measures in place to deepen reform and expand opening-up, especially to widen market access for foreign investment in services sectors, the financial sector included, China will generate more promising business opportunities for Dutch companies and investors.

China will make greater efforts and take faster steps to improve its business environment, expand market access for foreign investors, and protect intellectual property rights. This is a commitment China has made not just to the world but more so to serve China's own development. We will stay committed to these goals. The process of reform and opening-up will see China further align its domestic rules with international practices and seek development synergy with the rest of the world. The Netherlands and other countries are welcome to share in China's development opportunities. Together, through friendly competition and cooperation, we will prevail over difficulties and challenges and open up new vistas for common progress.

I have come to the Netherlands to renew and enhance a long-running friendship. A bright future dawns only when we maintain. I trust that the Netherlands known for its pioneering spirit will be an early bird in China's new round of reform and opening-up. With joint efforts, China, the Netherlands and Europe as a whole will all embrace a brighter future.

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