It is tulip season again! Three years ago, mission on my shoulders. In a few days, I am leaving this beautiful land, fully loaded with friendship and the spirit of cooperation.
In the past three years, I have often been asked about my impression of the Netherlands and Dutch people. The answer could be many pages, but in short, I would say “nice people, beautiful land and increasingly stronger relationship with China”.
The Dutch people are well-known as being innovative and pragmatic. They are also frank and straight-forward with friends. I myself have made a lot of Dutch friends here, who often told me that the Netherlands wanted to be China’s true and reliable friend, to discuss with China all issues in frank and sincere manner. I had a lot of fruitful discussions and dialogues with them. I really appreciate their candor and sincerity. The Netherlands is a beautiful country with long history. The Dam Square, Van Gogh Museum, Peace Palace and Keukenhof are well-known among Chinese people. Last year, around 300,000 Chinese came to the Netherlands to enjoy the beautiful scenery, and to visit the historical sites here. The advanced culture, education, technology, agriculture and horticulture also attract lots of Chinese to learn the Dutch experience.
As the Chinese ambassador, the most proud thing during my stay here is the high-level development of the Sino-Dutch relationship in recent years. In March 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to the Netherlands. During the visit, leaders of both sides pledged to establish an open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation, drawing a new blueprint of win-win relations. In October 2015, H. M. King Willem- Alexander paid a state visit to China, injecting new impetus to our future cooperation. Now, bilateral cooperation has been deepening in all fields. The Netherlands is China’s third largest trade partner, second largest export destination and third largest investment destination in EU. The Netherlands is the third largest investor in China among EU countries, while Chinese companies have invested in over 500 projects in the Netherlands.
It could be said that the Sino-Dutch relationship has never been better. Such achievements are hard-won indeed, bearing in mind the fact that we are so different in terms of historic background, political systems and stage of economic development, etc. In my opinion, as long as we follow the principles of mutual respect and equal treatment, solving differences through dialogue and consultation, we can deepen pragmatic cooperation to enhance common interests. This is the main experience over the years, and it is the way to get along with among true friends and partners.
Economy and trade is high on the agenda of the Netherlands. So it is with China. As the largest developing country in the world, China commits itself to promote the sustainable development of the economy and society and make its contributions to the development and progress of the world .
Last year, China’s GDP grew by 6.9%, lower than expectations. Some people think this means China is no longer an engine for world economic growth. Actually, according to the World Bank, China’s GDP accounts for around 15% of the World’s total, but contributed over 25% to the global GDP growth in 2015. This is bigger than the U.S.’s contribution of 23%. The GDP’s growth rate last year was slower than the double digit rate that we achieved for the past few decades, but it was growth on a basis of over US$10 trillion economy and was one of the fastest among the world’s major economies. Also, China’s import of commodities in 2015, including oil, gas, iron ore, copper concentrate and soy beans, all increased in quantity. Last year, China’s share in global trade grew by 1 percentage point to 13.2%. This share means China remains the biggest trading country in the world. These figures clearly show that, China remains as an important driving force for global growth. Chinese President Xi Jinping once pointed out, “you may compare the Chinese economy to a large ship on the sea. Any ship, however large, may occasionally get unstable sailing on the high sea. But the question you need to ask is, whether it is sailing in the right direction, does it have sufficient engine power and energy to stay long.
China is well on its way to transform its economic structure, from an economy mostly depending on investment and export, to one depending more on domestic consumption, from an industry oriented economy, to a service oriented one. We have just passed the 13th Five Year Plan. The Plan focuses on five development ideas, namely innovation, coordination, green development, opening-up and sharing. We are convinced that the five development ideas will provide strong engine power to China’s economic growth. With the right direction and strong engine power, the Chinese economy will sail through any short-term fluctuations safe and sound, and maintain steady and healthy growth in 2016 and years beyond.
In the world today, peace and development are still the common pursuit of all of us. I should say China’s development will contribute to the peace and stability of the world, while a peaceful and stable world is also crucial to China’s development. China is willing to strengthen its relations with countries all over the world based on peace, cooperation and mutual benefit. In recent years, China proposed the “Belt and Road” initiative – to carry on the spirit of cooperation, openness and mutual benefit of the ancient Silk Road. The plan is aimed at connecting infrastructure and development strategies and stepping up bilateral and regionalcooperation. With these efforts, the timehonored Silk Road will upgrade into a highway for the exchanges of goods, services, technology, culture and friendship between East and West, and will be exuberant with new vitality. The Netherlands and China are the two ends of “Belt and Road”. There will be vast room for Sino-Dutch cooperation. We believe that both sides will seize the great opportunity and realize the huge cooperation potential into fruitful achievements.
I will leave this land with great memories, and with every confidence in the future of the Sino-Dutch relationship. I am confident that both parties will put overall and long-term interests as the top priority to increase mutual trust and handle differences properly. I am confident that both parties will focus on mutual benefit and win-win progress to clear away the obstacle and break new grounds for practical cooperation. I am confident that the Sino-Dutch open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation will be more fruitful and have a bright prospect.