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Chinese Ambassador in the Netherlands expresses to the Dutch public "Welcome to Beijing"

     The Chinese Ambassador in the Netherlands, H.E. Mrs. Xue Hanqin published an article, titled "Welcome to Beijing" in the Dutch newspaper, Volkskrant, on 17 January 2008. The full text as follow:

       As we entered the New Year 2008, the Beijing Olympic Games is approaching us fast. People from all over the world, including the Chinese people and the Dutch people, are looking forward to this great sports event to be held in China. Millions of Chinese people have participated in the preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games and made tremendous efforts to ensure its success. We sincerely hope that by hosting the Olympic Games, China will get to know the world better just as the world will do about China.

       In the Olympic history, this is the first time that the Olympic Games will be hosted by a developing country from Asia. Deeply proud and honored the Chinese people cherish very much this opportunity to serve the Olympic movement. They still remember vividly the old days when Chinese were looked down upon, portrayed in the West as "the sickman of the East". They wish by hosting the Beijing Olympic Games to show the world a modern and open China and a self-confident, friendly and hospitable people.

        It has been said that China would come out of the Olympic Games a new superpower, another version of "China Threat" theory. Whatever the intention behind such an illusive prediction, China's expectation for the Beijing Olympic Games is simple: to promote the Olympic movement and enhance friendship and mutual understanding among peoples. No one would deny that the Olympic Games will facilitate the progress of China's social and economic developments, which the world and China should certainly be happy to see, but we wish to emphasize that we also know very well that China will remain a developing country for a very long time, as it still faces daunting development challenges, such as poverty alleviation, regional discrepancy, rural development, environmental protection, energy conservation and social issues. 

        Some people are worried that the air pollution and traffic jams in Beijing would adversely affect the sports meet. In response to such apprehensions, I would like to inform the Dutch public that at the moment the Beijing Municipal Government and its citizens are doing their utmost to improve the air quality and traffic conditions. To have a "Green Olympics" is the commitment of the Chinese Government and people to the international community. We will not only offer a harmonious cultural environment, but also a clean and comfortable natural environment for athletes and visitors. We are fully aware that this is in no way an easy task.

         We notice that there have been quite some public discussions about the Beijing Olympic Games and human rights issues in China. It is claimed that to host the Olympic Games, China should live up to international (or to say Western) human rights standards. Some people associate international political issues and human rights with the Beijing Olympic Games. We disapprove such a linkage and consider it against the principles of the Olympics. We feel it even more unacceptable to tarnish China's image in the western world by unfounded allegations. Such acts will jeopardize the Olympic spirit and deeply hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.

         China has always committed to the human rights cause. In the past thirty years, in particular, since the adoption of its economic reforms and open policy, China has made enormous economic achievements and social progress, alleviating over 200 million people out of poverty. Anyone who is objective and fair would recognize the great progress that China has made in the human rights field. It is the duty of the Chinese government under China's Constitution to respect and protect human rights and to make unremitting efforts to improve its human rights conditions. On the basis of mutual respect and equality, we are willing to hold dialogues and discussions with other parties on the issues of human rights.  Recently, I had talks with Mr. Eduard Nazarski, Chairman of Amnesty International the Netherlands, and Mr. Arjan Hamburger, Human Rights Ambassador of the Netherlands. We had very candid and open exchanges on various human rights issues. They agreed with me that politics and sports should be separate. They recognized the great efforts and achievements China has made for the human rights cause. They were also impressed by the passion and dedication of the Chinese people for the success of the Beijing Olympic Games. I appreciate such dialogues.

         In August, His highness, the Crown Prince and Mr. Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands are going to Beijing to attend the Olympic Games. The Netherlands will send its best athletes to compete for medals.  As we assure to render our best service for these distinguished guests, we sincerely wish all the athletes good luck and an enjoyable time in China. For the Chinese people, our slogan is "friendship first, competition second". I am sure that Dutch guests will not only win many medals but also make many friends in China. 


                                                                                                                                            Xue Hanqin

                                                                                                           Ambassador of China


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