A time to renew friendship and embrace
a brighter future
It is a great pleasure for me to visit
the beautiful country of the Netherlands for the first time as Chinese Premier.
To me, this country is by no means a strange, faraway land, but a familiar place.
About 20 years ago when I was working in a Chinese province, I visited the
Netherlands and was deeply impressed by its modern agriculture and thriving
tourism, ports and logistics, to name just a few. So this is like a visit with
Although I haven’t had many chances to
come back, I have been following the development of this country and that of
China-Netherlands relations. I am glad to see continued progress in our
bilateral ties and cooperation in recent years, most notably the establishment
of an open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation during X1’s
successful state visit here in 2014. Another milestone was recorded in the
history of our relations earlier this year when King Willem-Alexander and Prime
Minister Mark Rutte paid visits to China within two months.
There is a proverb in both Chinese and
Dutch which urges people to strike while the iron is hot. I hope my upcoming
visit will do the same and promote further progress of the interactions and
cooperation between our two countries.
The Netherlands has been associated
with many achievements. To historians and economists, it is the birthplace of
the world’s first share-holding company, first stock exchange and first modern
bank. To business leaders, it is home to many renowned multinationals.
Humanities scholars admire your country for its contribution to arts and
philosophy. In the travelogues of tourists, the Netherlands is the picturesque
Garden of Europe and Land of Windmills.
On the Chinese side, silk and
porcelain made in China arrived in this country as early as centuries ago. The
Netherlands was among the first western countries to recognize the People’s
Republic and enter into long-term cooperation on scientific research with us.
If we compare our histories and national journeys, we can find similarities in
national traits between the Chinese story and the Dutch story.
In the long fight against natural
disasters, the Dutch people have built dams and dikes and reclaimed land from
the sea to overcome the constraints imposed by the natural environment and make
the most of its somewhat limited resources. Through centuries of hard work,
your country has accomplished a great transformation from fighting the sea, to
harnessing the sea, and to thriving and prospering by the sea. Such an
enterprising, pioneering, open and pragmatic spirit is best captured by the
motto on your coat of arms — Je Maintiendrai (I will maintain).
For the Chinese nation, it has faced
many turmoil and challenges both internal and imposed from the outside through
the centuries. But the Chinese people have always emerged stronger by
overcoming the difficulties and obstacles and forged a national character of
industry, courage and perseverance. Similarly, in the past four decades of
reform and opening-up, we have encountered unprecedented risks and challenges;
but we stayed the course and never flinched. A long journey is made through
taking small steps. If there is one thing that we have learned along the way,
it is that we shall always maintain.
Today, facing the headwinds of
unilateralism and protectionism as well as the challenges of climate change and
terrorism, we need to be clear about the direction where we are going. We
should ask ourselves the question: do we opt for openness or stay behind closed
doors, go forward or backward?
The Netherlands is a trading nation
and China has been pursuing development through opening-up. As beneficiaries of
the rules-based multilateral order, our two countries are likely to give
similar answers to the above question. We would agree that the answer lies in
making a stronger commitment to uphold multilateralism, free trade, economic
globalization and an open world economy, and striving to sustain the hard-won
global recovery with concrete and concerted efforts. Let’s join hands to
maintain the Dutch story and the Chinese story and promote world peace and
We need to build on our friendship and
further enhance it. This is because we need to rise up to new challenges in the
global context. Moreover, the development driven by a new round of reform and
opening-up has created new space for cooperation between our countries. As a
Dutch saying goes, happiness doubles when you share it. Likewise, opportunities
will multiply when we share them.
China and the Netherlands, at
different development stages, have much to offer each other economically.
Efforts to advance the Belt and Road Initiative will provide more opportunities
to leverage the advantageous location of the Netherlands as the gateway to
Europe and facilitate connectivity between China and Europe by making full use
of the convenient land, sea and air transportation in this country. The boom of
new growth drivers and upgrading of the industrial structure in China will
cultivate new areas of technological cooperation. Chinese people’s pursuit of a
better life with higher household spending promises a new market for quality
Dutch products. China’s innovation-driven development strategy being
implemented in full swing will offer new impetus for creative industries in the
Netherlands to join in the development of the innovation economy in China. With
a host of measures in place to deepen reform and expand opening-up, especially
to widen market access for foreign investment in services sectors, the
financial sector included, China will generate more promising business
opportunities for Dutch companies and investors.
China will make greater efforts and
take faster steps to improve its business environment, expand market access for
foreign investors, and protect intellectual property rights. This is a
commitment China has made not just to the world but more so to serve China’s
own development. We will stay committed to these goals. The process of reform
and opening-up will see China further align its domestic rules with
international practices and seek development synergy with the rest of the
world. The Netherlands and other countries are welcome to share in China’s
development opportunities. Together, through friendly competition and
cooperation, we will prevail over difficulties and challenges and open up new
vistas for common progress.
I have come to the Netherlands to
renew and enhance a long-running friendship. A bright future dawns only when we
maintain. I trust that the Netherlands known for its pioneering spirit will be
an early bird in China’s new round of reform and opening-up. With joint
efforts, China, the Netherlands and Europe as a whole will all embrace a