Interview: Sino-Dutch partnership gains new momentum, says Chinese ambassador


(Photo: People.CN)

The upcoming official visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to the Netherlands will inject new impetus into the comprehensive cooperative partnership between the two countries, Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands Wu Ken has said.

It's the first time that Li is paying an official visit to the Netherlands as Chinese premier. The last time a Chinese premier visited the country was 14 years ago.

"The two governments will further strengthen dialogue and integrate development strategies to foster new growth points for cooperation," Wu told Xinhua in a recent interview, saying it will certainly bring opportunities and instill new energy into Sino-Dutch relations.

In 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping chose the Netherlands as the first stop of his first European tour since taking office. Xi's visit has laid a solid foundation for the Sino-Dutch comprehensive cooperative partnership that stresses openness and pragmatism, and marked a historic high in bilateral relations, Wu said.

The ambassador said China is currently the second-largest trading partner of the Netherlands outside the European Union (EU) and the Netherlands is China's third-largest trading partner within the EU. In 2017, their bilateral trade volume hit 78.6 billion U.S. dollars, setting a new record in history.

The Netherlands' direct investment in China reached 2.1 billion dollars in 2017, taking a lead within the EU, while Chinese investment in the Netherlands was also at the top within the EU bloc with 22 billion dollars by the end of 2017.

The Netherlands now hosts some 10,000 Chinese students and three Confucius Institutes, and receives over 350,000 Chinese tourists every year.

Citing a popular saying among Chinese netizens, Wu said Sino-Dutch cooperation is "fully charged with positive energy."

He said Sino-Dutch relations are at an all-time high, enjoying the geographic benefits of being linked with the ancient Maritime Silk Road, and seeing the aspirations of the governments, enterprises and peoples of both countries to enhance cooperation and exchanges.

The willingness of the European country to participate in the Belt and Road construction is particularly impressive, said Wu.

As a "gateway to Europe" and an important hub on the Belt and Road, the Netherlands has had its Eurasian connectivity further extended in recent years thanks to the continuous growth of Asian trade volume at the Port of Rotterdam, direct flights linking Amsterdam and seven Chinese cities and railway cargo expresses linking Rotterdam-Tilburg-Chengdu.

"What we have achieved demonstrates the potential of opportunity and benefit with the development of the Belt and Road. We can do more, especially in industry and technology cooperation, in e-commerce, in circular economy and in third-party markets," said Wu.

The Chinese diplomat viewed the cooperation in science and technology as well as innovation as particularly promising.

"Let's combine 'Dutch design' and 'Made in China.' We can upgrade the cooperation in new energy, new material, biomedicine, environmental protection, smart city, etc. We can explore joint industrial parks or incubators, joint industrial investment, trading in technology or joint training, for example," he said.

"E-commerce also presents huge potential as online consumption is growing rapidly in the Netherlands and leading Chinese companies in this field are very interested in entering the Dutch market. Making the Netherlands a European e-commerce center will strongly support the growth of bilateral trade," Wu added.

On cooperation in circular economy, Wu said he expects new growth points.

"The Dutch are strong in green growth; we Chinese are eager for a greener life. Cooperation in this field will offer not only a bigger market for Dutch enterprises, and a better life for the Chinese people, but also best practices for the sustainability of the whole world," he said.