|Speech of Ambassador Qu Xing on the occasion of the reception of the 45th Anniversaryof the Sino-Belgian diplomatic relations as well as the 67th anniversary of the People's Republic of China|
Distinguished Vice Prime Minister Didier Reynders,
On this beautiful evening, I'm very happy to celebrate, together with our guests, the 45th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between China and Belgium, and the 67th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. I would like to extend my warm welcome and sincere gratitude to all of you for joining this event! My special thanks go to Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Didier Reynders for making himself available to attend this reception, which fully demonstrates the importance the Belgian Government and the Vice Prime Minister himself attach to the China-Belgium relations.
45 years ago, in the golden autumn of October, the People's Republic of China and the Kingdom of Belgium formally established diplomatic relations. For nearly half a century, our two countries have been joining efforts to see our mutual political trust deepen, our economic and trade cooperation boom, and our people-to-people exchanges prosper.
For 45 years, China and Belgium have been respecting each other politically. Our high-level exchanges are frequent. In 2014 and 2015, the heads-of-state of our two countries visited each other and promised to deepen our comprehensive friendly and cooperative partnership. Our bilateral relations have been speeding up. In June last year, Prime Minister Li Keqiang visited Belgium and, together with Prime Minister Charles Michel, witnessed the signing of 12 cooperation agreements accounting for more than 20 billion US dollars.
The cooperation between our two countries has made a new leap forward and has fruitful results. Our annual bilateral trade has reached 23.2 billion US dollars in 2015. That's 1150 times the trading volume of the beginning of our diplomatic relations, which means that our trading volume every 7 hours today reaches the equivalent of the total trading volume of the year 1971. Companies of both countries are more and more interactive in investing in each other. Well-known Belgian companies such as Solvay, Bekaert, Umicore, Picanol are expanding their business in China, whereas China's Geely Group, Hainan Airlines, Huawei, ZTE, The ICBC(Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), The Bank of China, are getting settled one after the other in Belgium. Volvo's Ghent plant has been booming since China's Geely took over. Every minute the 5,300 local employees produce one automobile, and this production rate pushed the annual production to a record high of 250,000 automobiles, and thus the company fared rather well in a sluggish automobile market in world.
The people-to-people exchanges are prospering and lend more and more social and public support to our cooperation. Currently there are more than 50 schools offering Chinese courses in Belgium. The two sides are jointly running 6 Confucius Institutes in Belgium. Every year there are more than one hundred exchange events covering music, art exhibitions, and performances taking place between our two countries. The newly founded Chinese Culture Center in Brussels already serves as an important platform for cultural exchanges. The scientific and technological cooperation between our two countries amounts to nearly 500 projects. The "China-Belgium Technology Center" in Louvain-La-Neuve has officially been launched.
Our two peoples are friendly and close to each other. The stories of the Belgian Smurfs and of Tintin are widely known in China. The giant pandas "Xing Hui" and "HaoHao" in Pairi Daiza Park have almost become superstars in Belgium. In June this year, "Tian Bao" (treasure of the heaven), the baby panda was born. The first lady of China and the Queen of Belgians sent their congratulation letters on the occasion of hundred days of "TianBao" who is now becoming another symbol of the China-Belgium friendship.
This year, our two countries have held a series of events to celebrate the 45th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. The Spring Festival Parade at the Grand Place of Brussels and the Chinese New Year reception at the City Hall at the beginning of this year kicked off a series of celebrations. Next month, Belgian Prime Minister will visit China. It will be the first official visit that Charles Michel pays to China as the Prime Minister. I believe it will further bring the cooperation between our two countries to new heights. In December, Mr. Siegfred Bracke, the President of the Chamber of Representatives of Belgium, will pay an official visit to China. It will be another important high level visit from Belgium to China. Furthermore, we will also hold the "The Belt and Road" Sino-Belgian Cooperation Forum and the "Giant Panda Design and Painting Contest" to add luster to our bilateral relations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the 67 years of the establishment of the People's Republic of China, especially since the reform and opening up, the Chinese people have made remarkable achievements. China has become the second largest economy in the world, the biggest trading nation in goods, and the third biggest foreign investing country in the world. The weight of China's economy in the world's economy has increased from 1.8% in 1978 to 15% in 2015. Currently the Chinese economy has entered a "new normal" period. In 2015 China's economic growth was 6.9%, though it is not as impressive as in past three decades with an average growth of 9.5%, it is still a high growth rate. Such annual growth rate leads to a production of 700 billion dollars, which is equivalent to the GDP of a world's top 20 country. The "Belt and Road" initiative launched by China gives a new impetus to China's economic growth, and provides new vitality to the world's development. A few weeks ago at the G20 Summit, which took place in Hangzhou, China put forward its proposals to address the new challenges of the world economy and to strengthen international cooperation.
However, China remains a developing country, and development remains the top priority on the agenda of the Chinese government, which, in deploying its strategic development plan, is endeavoring to build a comprehensively well-off society, while comprehensively deepening the reforms and carrying out the rule of law and comprehensively tightening up the party discipline. It's leading the people to achieve the "two hundred-year" goals and the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
China has great development prospects and the Sino-Belgian cooperation has great potential. I firmly believe that with the joint efforts of our two governments and peoples, the China-Belgium relations will mark even more brilliant achievements.
Now I would like to propose a toast
to the 45th anniversary of the China-Belgium diplomatic relations,
to the 67th anniversary of the People's Republic of China,
to the bright future of the Sino-Belgian cooperation,
to the health of everybody here and to our friendship.