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Setting Sail on a New Voyage of China-Netherlands Relation
2019/06/18

 

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

 

Good evening! Goedenavond!

Thank you for attending today's reception.

Time flies, and more than one month has passed since my arrival here. During this period, many people have asked me when we met: What is your impression of the Netherlands? Are the Dutch people friendly to you?


As you could imagine, my answer has always been: Perfect! It can't be better! Here, I enjoyed the bright spring days, the pleasant weather, the hospitality of the people, and the thriving vitality of this country. And I have to mention the most memorable moment when the golden carriage took me to present my credentials to His Majesty King Willem-Alexander. It was like a dream…

 

However, all this is true, for sure. One word sums up my experience for the past month. That is "busy"! I had the honor to work together with the Dutch colleagues for the successful visit of Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan. I was also busy with visiting officials, ambassadors, and friends from all walks of life, busy with writing articles for newspapers and being interviewed, busy with receiving delegations from China, as well as attending various receptions...

 

I really enjoy this kind of busyness. In fact, it is an epitome of the Sino-Dutch relations – rich in form and content, fast-changing while challenging.

 

This is not my first visit to the Netherlands. As early as 30 years ago, I already came here to attend conferences on International Law. In the past 30 years, the Netherlands has maintained its traditions well but has also changed quietly in many aspects. Today, the windmills I saw 30 years ago are still turning; the buildings I visited 30 years ago are still standing; the tulips I admired 30 years ago are again in full bloom; and the cheese I liked 30 years ago has become even more fascinating.

 

However, 30 years ago, there were not so many modern buildings, and no giant pandas, not to mention the convenience the rapid development of modern technology has brought to people's lives. Especially, the Sino-Dutch relations as well as the cooperation and friendship between the two peoples nowadays are completely different from those of 30 years ago. In retrospect, China and the Netherlands enjoy a history of more than 400 years of exchanges and communication. The Dutch people are sometimes even called "the Chinese in Europe".

 

In recent years, especially since 2014 when President Xi Jinping visited the Netherlands, and together with His Majesty King Willem-Alexander clearly defined Sino-Dutch relations as "an open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation", which has brought tangible benefits to the people of both countries. That was unimaginable in the past. We are standing at a new, higher historical starting point. This is the reason why I am full of gratitude for, and full of confidence in, my mission as the new ambassador of China to the Netherlands.

 

As the gateway to Europe, the powerful merchant fleet is one of the symbols of the Netherlands. We may compare Sino-Dutch relations to a ship sailing in the sea. Why is this ship able to cleave through the waves and keep moving forward? I think there are at least the following reasons:

 

First of all, despite the vicissitudes of the times, mutual respect and the pursuit of peace have always been the "Compass" that guides us ahead. The greatest contribution of the Dutch international law pioneer Hugo Grotius lies in putting forward the principle of state sovereignty and pointing out that the laws between countries "do not seek the individual interests of any country, but the common interests of all countries." Sixty-five years ago, China put forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, that is, "mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence". Now, China is advocating the promotion of building of a community of shared future for mankind. This is also for the purpose of promoting peace, harmony, cooperation and development between countries of different civilizations.

 

Our common pursuit of international fairness, justice and human progress has pointed out the direction for our ship. Based upon this, the two countries have carried out fruitful cooperation on global issues such as climate change and the UN peacekeeping process. Therefore, as long as we firmly master the course of our ship, we can always seek common ground while reserving differences and work together to break the waves, no matter what storms and torrents are encountered.

 

Secondly, despite the vicissitudes of the times, hard work, bravery and perseverance have always been the "anchor" of our friendship. As shown by the inscriptions engraved on the Dutch national emblem, the Dutch people struggled against the sea with the national character of "perseverance". The Dutch people have built a field around the sea, have built a beautiful homeland on lowland and swamp, and are determined to innovate and created a large number of world-class high-tech companies, making the Netherlands one of the most competitive economies in the European Union.

 

China, with the spirit of self-reliance and hard work, became a world factory from a country "poor and blank" just after liberation, and by continuously increasing its investment, has become the most dynamic innovation center in the world from the world factory. We have made great achievements including getting 780 million people out of poverty, and has become a powerful engine for global economic growth. The above-mentioned tenacity and aspirations for a better life shared by the peoples of China and the Netherlands are the driving force for the achievements of the two countries, and are also the genes and bonds that link the friendly relations between our two countries.

 

Thirdly, despite the vicissitudes of the times, openness and inclusiveness, pragmatism and mutual benefit have always been the "sail" of our cooperation. For the Netherlands, trade is the foundation underlying all efforts to build the country. And the Netherlands has become a beacon of free trade. As for China, since the implementation of the reform and opening up policy, China has continuously increased its opening-up and promoted international economic and trade cooperation. Thirty years ago, our bilateral trade volume was less than 1 billion US dollars, whilst, it reached over 85 billion last year, making the Netherlands China's second largest trade partner in EU.

 

Nowadays, with over 90 cargo and passenger flights per week between Amsterdam and 7 major Chinese cities, several Sino-Euro freight trains between our two countries, and over half of the deep-water freight ships from China taking Rotterdam as the first stop, our cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative is playing a more and more important role in Asia-Europe connectivity and global connectivity. This March, the Dutch ING Bank set up a joint venture bank with Beijing Bank, becoming the first foreign investor with over 50% ownership in a bank in China. Besides, the world's longest cross-sea bridge, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, and the first probe landing on the far side of the moon-- the Chang'e-4 lunar landing exploration, have all drawn on experiences from Chinese and Dutch technical and science teams. With no doubt, while there are differences in our social systems, cultures and stages of development, our interests are intertwined, and the concept of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation has been deeply rooted in our hearts.

 

The Dutch poet Willem Bilderdijk once said, "In the past lies the present, and in the now, what will be." In an era when multipolarization, economic globalization, cultural diversity and social informatization are undergoing in-depth development, human society is full of hope as well as challenges. How should the giant Sino-Dutch ship sail through the mist? And in which direction shall we navigate?

 

One word is frequently mentioned in recent days in the Netherlands, and that is "balance". Indeed, a ship will capsize without balance. Chinese people pay much attention to balance. In fact, the first character in the Chinese name of China, zhong, means the middle path or balance. But how should we understand "balance"? I have a good example to share. Both Chinese and Dutch people love riding bicycles. As we all know, the balance of a bike is hard to maintain when it's immobile, not to mention going backward. Balance could only be maintained by going forward, with attention on the road to avoid crash.

 

It is the same situation when it comes to the problems and challenges that we encounter nowadays. The counter-current to globalization, the spread of non-traditional security threats and the concern aroused from the application of new technologies are all problems arising from a society moving forward. We could by no means solve these problems by self-enclosing, stagnating, repelling each other, or even moving backward. Instead, we should never forget why we started the journey in the first place and always keep pace with the times by looking ahead and moving forward. These problems could only be addressed through the process of development and a new balance could only be attained by moving forward. Only in this way can our ship sail steady afar.

 

We should enhance our mutual understanding, trust and friendship by means of equal dialogues, consultation and coordination, while firmly avoiding ungrounded suspicion and deliberate smear. We should uphold opening-up, inclusiveness and pragmatic cooperation, with a view to promoting and safeguarding bilateral exchanges and to provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for our companies, while firmly opposing deliberate restrictions or political assault. We should stick to multilateralism and free trade and safeguard the authority of international law, while firmly opposing unilateralism and protectionism. We should uphold fairness and justice in international affairs, jointly address global threats and promote global peace, security and common prosperity, and firmly oppose hegemony and cold war mentality.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

The year of 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The past 70 years have witnessed China's own development and its effort to share its development benefit with other countries, as well as the significant effort and contribution China has made to the cause of human progress.

 

Today, China is opening up further to the world, bringing unprecedented opportunities to Sino-Dutch relations. President Xi Jinping pointed out that an increasingly opening-up China will interact more positively with the world and thus bring greater progress and prosperity to itself and the world. No matter how the international situation changes, China will always stay its due course.

 

It will open up further to the world at a new high level, strengthen international cooperation on intellectual property rights protection, import more goods and services, and coordinate international macroeconomic policies more effectively. It will build up a better rule of law and policy environment to promote economic and trade cooperation and achieve win-win results with foreign countries. We will uphold the principle of
wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits to attain high quality development in Belt and Road projects, providing greater platform for international cooperation and making greater contribution to building a community of shared future for mankind.

 

In conclusion, I'd like to thank you all once again for your support to Sino-Dutch relations and the work of our embassy. I'd also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessors for their excellent work in promoting our bilateral relations. I will converge all my 30 years of affections for the Netherlands into the long-lasting friendship between China and the Netherlands.

 

Working together, we will navigate the great Sino-Dutch ship into a brilliant future, whatever wind and waves we may have to brave. At the same time, as China's permanent representative to the OPCW, I look forward to working with all my colleagues to promote the principles and purposes of the Chemical Weapons Convention so that this important international organization can play its due role in safeguarding world peace and security.

I'd like to end my speech with a sentence engraved on the wall of Spinoza Museum which I recently visited, "If all men are wise and treat each other well, the world would be a paradise."

 

Now please join me in a toast:
To the new level of Sino-Dutch relations,
To our friendship and the health of 
all distinguished guests and your families,

 

Cheers! 干杯!

Thank you. Dank u wel.

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