By Roy Lie Atjam
50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Netherlands diplomatic relations, which took place on 18th May 1972. Ambassador H.E. Mr Jian Tan hosted a photo exhibition and a reception to celebrate the momentous anniversary of the establishment of China-Netherlands diplomatic relations.
The first contacts between the two nations go back to the 17th century in Guangzhou. However, official relations with the Peoples’ Republic of China began in 1954, reaching the ambassadorial level in 1972.
The venue was the Embassy of China on 17 May 2022.
H.E. Mr Jian Tan welcome his guests to join in the festivities and delivered his welcome remarks this is what he had to say.
“For over 2 years, this hall of the embassy has been empty, thanks to the pandemic. I feel really good to see it in festive atmosphere again. My warm welcome to all of you. Special thanks to the artists, teachers and students for their wonderful performances.
Tomorrow, May the 18th, 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level between China and the Netherlands. This half the century has witnessed continuous growth in our ties and fruitful cooperation in various areas. It deserves our celebration and blessing.
That’s why we have selected 40 moments in the past 50 years to highlight our cooperation achievements. But let me start with the logo for the 50th anniversary. I really like it. You can see the poster here, and the flower logo on the slope outside. It features national colors of China and the Netherlands: red and orange.
The lines, making the number 50, symbolize water streams. Water is life, water is power, water is wisdom. Our two peoples understand that, and have shaped their land and lives by harnessing and harmonizing with water. Water conservancy projects such as China’s Dujiangyan and the Netherlands’ sea-blocking dam are well known to the world.
Our relationship is like a river.
It started as a stream as early as 400 years ago, when our two peoples established contacts through the maritime silk road. The stream turned into a river on 18 May 1972, when the leaders of the two countries, with a far-sighted strategic vision and political wisdom, upgraded our diplomatic relations to ambassadorial level.
The river was widened greatly in 2014, when President Xi Jinping together with His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, defined Sino-Dutch relations as an open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation, injecting fresh impetus into its growth. Our memory flows with the river, as we go through the photos. Several key words come to my mind, which may best capture the nature and feature of our cooperation.
The first key word is connectivity. Although our two countries are geographically far away from each other, we are closely connected by sea, air and land. In 1996, the first Chinese civil air route to the Netherlands was opened, and now Schiphol Airport is one of the busiest terminals in Europe for passenger and cargo transport to and from China.
In 2013, a Chinese freighter was named “ the best sustainable ship of 2012” at Rotterdam port, and now Rotterdam port is the first stop for nearly half of China’s deep-water freight routes to Europe.
In 2021, the direct China-Europe railway express between Tilburg and Nanjing was opened, and there are in total 6 trips of China-Europe Railway Express each week between us. Connectivity brings us closer and stronger. What’s more, China sees the Netherlands as a gateway for Europe.
The second key word is win-win. As we can see in the photos, as early as in 1973, the Dutch Industrial and Technical Exhibition was held in Beijing. In 1974, China and the Netherlands reached trade mark registration reciprocal agreement. Let me give an example about how big a difference 50 years of time could make. Our trade volume has grown nearly 1,700 times from 69 million US$ in 1972 to over 116 billion US$ in 2021.
I bet this will make a record.
Trade is mutually beneficial, so is investment. Among all the EU countries, the Netherlands is the largest destination of Chinese investment, and the second largest source of investment to China. China has benefited from Dutch investment. The Netherlands is a developed economy with a large number of world-class high-tech companies. Dutch business people tell me that the huge market of China is indispensable for Dutch companies to stay super competitive.
The third is friendship.
There are countless stories of our people to people friendship. Chairman of the Dutch kite association flied his 250-meter long kite at the birthplace of kites in Weifang China in 1984. A Dutch eye doctor treated over 2000 Chinese eye patients for free in 1995. In 2020, the two pandas living here gave birth to a baby panda Fan Xing, which is the fruit of our friendship.
Recently, the most famous Chinese classic novel, the Dream of the Red Chamber, was translated into Dutch and immediately became a bestseller. Last year, I unveiled Nanjing Pavilion, a gift from my hometown Nanjing to its sister city Eindhoven. Our two countries have established more than 30 pairs of sister cities or provinces. Nearly 10,000 Chinese students are now studying in the Netherlands.
Facing the common challenges of Covid-19, people from all walks of life of the two countries have rendered each other great support in this difficult time. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The affinity of our people lays the solid foundation for our relations. Last but not least is the international cooperation. In 1995, then Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok attended a Sino-Dutch clean coal seminar in Beijing. In 2011, the largest directly-driven wind power generator manufactured by China was installed in the Netherlands.
In 2019, our prime ministers together unveiled the first overseas office of the Dutch-based global center on climate adaptation in China. Our bilateral relations not only benefits our own countries but also contribute to the mankind. We cooperate closely on climate change, sustainable development goals and many others high on the international development agenda. Both support multilateralism and an open world economy.
These achievements couldn’t be made without the leading role and political wisdom of our leaders and governments, without the resilience and entrepreneurship of our business people, and without the openness and hardworking of our two peoples.
While celebrating the accomplishments in the past, we are fully aware of and will not hide from the challenges ahead. Our world today faces a swirling combination of uncertainty and instability. Various traditional and non-traditional security threats keep flaring up. Peace and development, the themes of our times, are faced with severe challenges.
Unprecedented challenges require unprecedented cooperation. We all share our fate in the same boat. With a view to addressing these global challenges and threats, President Xi Jinping has put forward the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative. These two Initiatives give explicit answers to questions of our times, China’s contribution to the world in tackling peace and development deficit, for common security and prosperity.
China is ready to work with Europe and the Netherlands for human progress, world peace and development. Over the past 50 years, China-Netherlands relations has stood the test of the visissitudes of the international landscape. With mutual respect and enhanced understanding, our relations can transcend the differences of social systems and ideology, and achieve healthy and stable development.
I am optimistic about the relations between our two countries, not because I am a glass-half-full man, but because our two countries have more common grounds than differences, no fundamental conflict of interest. And because there exists huge potential for cooperation between us, that will benefit not only our two peoples, but also the whole world.
I firmly believe that with joint efforts in the coming year, our open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation will be brought to a new high. Next time when we hold exhibition, there will be more photos of our cooperation on climate change, digital economy, green development, health care, space, science and technology innovation, etc.
Now back to the logo, if you look carefully, you will notice the lines in our anniversary logo are designed as unfinished lines. The river of our relations is flowing into the future. Let’s build on the 50 years of Sino-Dutch friendship, add more momentum to the river, which contributes to the ocean of a more peaceful and prosperous world.
A picture is worth a thousand words. So let me stop here. May I propose a toast:
To Sino-Dutch relations,
To the friendship between our two peoples,
To the health and happiness of all of you,
An animated program featured performances by Dutch and Chinese actors. The traditional Dutch orchestra Kleintje Pils opened the show. They performed Dutch and popular international tunes. The Dutch Chinese school and Confucious Institute in Delft stole the show with their children’s ballet.
A Dutch Chinese ladies duo concluded with a medley of Dutch and international tunes. Mr Peter Potman, DDG for Foreign Economic Relations MFA, felicitated Ambassador Jian Tan and elaborated on the long-standing Dutch-Sino relationship.
Among the attendees were Karin Mössenlechner, Director of Asia and Oceania MFA, Senator and the former Minister of Economic Affairs Annemarie Jorritsma, to name a few. Subsequently, the photo exhibition was declared open.
A reception and walking buffet concluded the joyous evening.