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Premier Wen Jiabao Holds Talks with Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands

  On April 6, 2004, Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council held talks at the Great Hall of the People with Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, who was here in China for a working visit. The two sides exchanged views on China-Netherlands and China-EU relations.

  Premier Wen noted that development of China-Netherlands relations has shown a good momentum in recent years, with mutual understanding and trust deepening and cooperation in economy and trade expanding. Last year, bilateral trade volume between the two countries grew by 44.3%, rendering the Netherlands the second largest trading partner of China in the European Union. The Netherlands is the fourth largest European investor in China and many Dutch companies have enjoyed rapid growth here. The two countries have conducted many productive cooperation programs in agriculture and technology. There are many favorable conditions for further development of China-Netherlands relations, which are free from any political obstructions. It is hoped that the two countries can maintain the exchanges of top-level visits, seize opportunities and be open-minded so as to push forward the comprehensive cooperation between the two sides in economy, technology as well as other areas.

  Prime Minister Balkenende agreed with the comments and suggestions on relations between the two countries by Premier Wen. He said the Netherlands attaches great importance to the friendly relations with China and is pleased to see the fruitful results of cooperation with China. He hoped that the two sides would continue to have fruitful cooperation in all areas including agriculture, environmental protection and transportation.

  When talking about China-EU relations, Premier Wen extended congratulations on the Netherlands' upcoming rotating presidency over the EU. He said there are no fundamental conflicts of interests between China and the EU, as both sides are committed to developing relations with each other. Last year, the two sides reached consensus on establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership and the bilateral trade volume exceeded US$100 billion for the first time in history, bringing about a desirable win-win situation. China and the EU have same or similar positions on many important international issues. Both uphold multi-lateralism, an enhanced role of the United Nations and maintaining world diversity. China attaches great importance to relations with the EU and hopes that the Netherlands will play an active role in boosting the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the EU during its rotating presidency.

  Balkenende agreed with the observations of Wen on relations between the EU and China. He said, in recent years, cooperation and exchanges in political affairs, economy and other fields have been expanding. The EU and China are strategic partners of each other. The Netherlands will make active efforts towards development of bilateral relations between the two sides. He expressed appreciation for the new achievements that China had made in human rights, hoping that the human rights dialogue between the EU and China would continue to have fruitful results and the two sides could enhance mutual understanding. Balkenende briefed the Chinese side on the proposals of the Netherlands with regard to the 7th EU - China Summit, saying that the EU attaches great importance to this summit and is looking forward to its success.

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