July 20, 2019

Setting Sail on a New Voyage of China-Netherlands Relations

By H.E. Hong Xu, Ambassador of China to the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

As the gateway to Europe, the powerful merchant fleet is one of the symbols of the Netherlands. China-Netherlandsrelations, in my eyes, are as well like a great ship sailing in the sea. In the over 400-year-old friendship history, this great ship managed to cleave through the waves and keep moving forward. Particularly, following the historic exchange visits by President Xi Jinping and His Majesty King Willem-Alexander in 2014 and 2015, this ship has sailed smoothly into a new channel of “open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation”. From all these, I think some enlightenment come to us.

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. Now, China is further 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.

Secondly, despite the vicissitudes of the times, hard working, 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, 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 working, became a world factory from a country “poor and blank” just after liberation, and by continuously increasing its investment, has become one of the most dynamic innovation centers in the world.

We have made great achievements including lifting around 800 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 of the country. And the Netherlands has become a beacon of free trade.

H.E. Hong Xu, Ambassador of China.

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.

Bilateral trade volume between China and the Netherlands 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 almost 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. 

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 recently in the Netherlands, and that is “balance”. Indeed, a ship will capsize without balance. Chinese people pay much attention to balance as well. 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 by 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 concerns 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. 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.

To that end, we should enhance our mutual understanding, trust and friendship by means of equal dialogues, consultation and coordination. 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. 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.

This year 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 benefits with other countries, as well as the significant efforts and contributions China has made to the cause of human progress.No matter how the international situation changes, China will always stay its due course, and China’s door is opening wider to the world. 

As President Xi Jinping stated in his speech at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, a more open China will further integrate itself into the world and deliver greater progress and prosperity for both China and the world at large. We will expand market access for foreign investment in more areas, intensify efforts to enhance international cooperation in intellectual property protection, increase the import of goods and services on an even larger scale and more effectively engage in international macro-economic policy coordination.We will continue to uphold the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits to attain the high quality development of Belt and Road, providing greater platform for international cooperation.

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