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A New Chapter in the Year of the Sheep

On February 19, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated. On this occasion, Nanda Jagusiak with Holland Times interviews the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, H.E. Mr. CHEN Xu.


Your Excellency, thank you for accepting my interview just before the Chinese New Year. As the Year of the Sheep is approaching, what are your remarks on China’s diplomacy over last year, and what do you expect on Sino-Dutch relations in the new year? Is there something you want to say to our readers?

Last year, China continuously made new achievements in its development. On the diplomatic front, China explored new theories and practices for conducting international relations, participated in global economic and financial governance, engaged in friendly exchanges with countries in all major regions, and worked for the peaceful resolution of hot-spot issues in some regions. These efforts created an enabling environment for China's domestic development. Fruitful results in China's diplomacy have been achieved in 2014, and the peaceful development and independent foreign policy of peace of China made active contributions to the world’s peace and development.

In the coming New Year of the Sheep, I sincerely hope that, with good fortune and happiness brought to us by the Sheep, China and the Netherlands shall make joint efforts, with long-term perspectives and feet on solid ground, to open a new chapter of our bilateral relations. To this end, as the Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands, I will certainly spare no effort together with my colleagues. Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I’d like to extend the warmest regards and best wishes to overseas Chinese in the Netherlands, to your readers and all Dutch people. I wish all of you and your families happiness, prosperity and every success in the Chinese New Year of the Sheep!

You were accredited to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as the Chinese Ambassador in April 2013, could you please first share with us some of your experiences and feelings from then on? What impressed you most?

In nearly two years in this country, I have been fully occupied in many aspects of my life since relations between China and the Netherlands kept moving forward, with cooperations in every field being deepened continuously. In particular, the Chinese President Xi Jinping paid his first state visit to the Netherlands and participated in the Third Nuclear Security Summit last March. Prior to that, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited China. I had the opportunity to make my own contribution in preparing for and receiving these important visits, and was very much encouraged by the sound momentum of development of Sino-Dutch relations. I visited almost all major cities and regions of this country, even Curaçao last year. In numerous events and activities that I participated in or hosted, I made many news friends and got acquainted with local Dutch people. And I also tried to make my own efforts and contribution to promote Sino-Dutch cooperation for further achievements in some key fields.

Two things impressed me most. One is Sino-Dutch relations itself. Its pragmatic, comprehensive and open nature is so impressive, and the future of bilateral cooperation in nearly every field is so promising with so much potential to be released. The other is about the Dutch people. Regarding themselves as the Chinese in Europe, the Dutch people share so many similarities with the Chinese people. Our common characteristics including honesty, diligence, inclusiveness and kindness, are favorable basis for both promoting pragmatic cooperation and strengthening friendship.

Your Excellency, as you mentioned, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to the Netherlands last year. May I ask what this visit means to the Sino-Dutch relations?

Last March, President Xi Jinping together with the First Lady paid the first state visit in history to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with unprecedented fruitful results being produced. They built up sound working relations and personal friendship with H.M. King Willem-Alexander and H.M. Queen Máxima through broad and intensive interactions in several occasions. Our two countries jointly issued a statement on the establishment of an open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation, which upgraded the Sino-Dutch relations to a new height and envisaged a clear path for the future cooperation in key fields. Governmental institutions and enterprises concerned from both sides signed dozens of documents for cooperation in various fields such as agriculture, finance, energy, telecommunication, ship-building, aeronautics and etc., with a total amount of over 3 billion US dollars. What’s more, the establishment of a Chinese cultural center in the Netherlands and some other important people-to-people exchange initiatives were pushed forward in a substantial manner. To conclude my answer, I’d rather say that this visit has sketched a new blueprint for and brought new vitality to Sino-Dutch relations.

But are ordinary Dutch people able to benefit from development of Sino-Dutch relations? Could you by the way also give us some general ideas about the whole picture of Sino-Dutch relations?

Sure, our two peoples are indeed the ultimate beneficiaries of development of Sino-Dutch relations, particularly ordinary people. Since early 1600s’ China and the Netherlands have built up trade relations. At that time, via the ancient Maritime Silk Road from Guangzhou to Rotterdam fleets of Dutch merchant ships kept carrying Chinese commodities like tea, silk and porcelain to Europe, and backwards with European goods to China, which opened a significant window of cultural exchange between China and Europe, including the Netherlands. During the World War II, our two countries fought jointly against the Fascist aggression, making important contributions to the great course of world’s peace and justice. In the past few decades, though with ups and downs, Sino-Dutch relations have successfully kept a general momentum of moving forward, and recently embarked on an express lane of development. Perhaps I could pick up some impressive examples for you. Bilateral trade volume between China and the Netherlands has been growing rapidly in recent years, to more than 70 billion US dollars in 2013 and 2014. Mutual investment is vigorous either in terms of total amount or number of projects. As far as I know, there are more than 400 Chinese companies operating branches or representative offices in the Netherlands, creating about 8000 jobs for local Dutch people. At the same time, the Netherlands is well-known in China for its sophisticated expertise and technologies in water management, agriculture, environmental protection and many other fields. Dutch dairy products, the Rubber Duck and the Voice of Holland are most popular brands of the Netherlands among Chinese consumers and audiences. Apart from that, Consulate Generals in Willemstad and Chongqing were already set up respectively a few months ago, the World’s largest container ship CSCL Globe made a stop in Rotterdam during its maiden voyage recently, and the 18th Escort Task Group of the Chinese Navy paid a successful official visit to the Netherlands in January. Without further explanation, you may see that all these exchanges and cooperations can bring tangible benefits to peoples of both countries. What I also want to mention is that, our two countries have agreed and are expecting that the Netherlands’ geographical advantage as one of the key European ports connecting Asia and Europe should be fully utilized. With the “one Belt and one Road” initiative as a blueprint in our hands, the ties between our two countries and peoples will be further strengthened.

The “One belt and One Road” initiative you mentioned has reminded me of the impressive progress China has made recently in many aspects. Could you please tell me what are the major issues in China’s policy agenda now?

China is the largest developing country with the largest population in the world. In the past two years, bearing the Chinese Dream in mind, we made great progress in many aspects including deepening reform, streamlining public administration, combating corruption, promoting rule of law, modernizing governance as well as adapting ourselves to the new mode of economic development. We made every endeavor to promote common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, put forward the initiative of “one Belt and one Road” for common development of countries concerned, and kept building a global network of partnerships, as well as a new type of international relations based on cooperation and common interest. We firmly supported and actively participated in UN peace-keeping missions, and also actively took part in international campaigns against terrorism and Ebola disease, with the guidance of the right approach to principles and interests. In the future, China will continue to unswervingly uphold the independent foreign policy of peace and follow the path of peaceful development. A China becoming even more prosperous and stronger will make even more active and important contribution to the great course of world’s peace and development, and China is willing to make joint efforts with other countries to promote peace, stability and prosperity of all Humankind.

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