|Remarks by H.E.Ambassador CAO Zhongming at the Reception Marking the Ambassador's Assuming of Office|
Your Excellency President Siegfried Bracke,
Your Excellency Secretary of State Mr. Pieter De Crem,
Your Excellency Ambassador Zhang Ming,
Guests, Ladies, Gentlemen and Friends,
晚上好!Good evening! Bonsoir! Goeienavond!
Let me start by saying thank you to the guests here today. On behalf of myself and the Chinese Embassy, a warm welcome to you all! I would like to take this opportunity and pass on the greetings and best wishes of the Chinese government and people, to the royal family, government, legislature and people of Belgium.
I feel deeply honored to become China's ambassador to Belgium. Belgium, known as the capital of Europe, plays a unique role on the world stage. It is a country with beautiful views, diverse cultures, advanced industries and technologies. The country is famous for its premium-quality chocolate, beer, and diamonds. Tintin, the brave and quick-witted comic hero, is a household name in China. Since I arrived in Belgium fifty days ago, I have had the honor to receive a visit by Premier Li Keqiang and also opportunities to meet with Belgian people from different sectors of the society. I am deeply impressed by the friendly and hospitable Belgian people, and the country's open and inclusive society. Let me take a moment to thank the government of Belgium for all its thoughtful arrangements since I arrived in Brussels for this new post.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China-Belgium relations have enjoyed steady growth since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1971. In 2014, during President XI Jinping's state visit to Belgium, our bilateral relations were elevated to an all-round partnership of friendly cooperation. The government of Belgium has stayed committed to the One China Policy and taken seriously the major concerns of China on Xizang (Tibet) -, Xinjiang-related and other matters that bear on China's core interests. Cooperation between the two sides has further accelerated and yielded fruitful results across the board. Our trade volume last year reached US$23.3 billion. People-to-people ties are also closer, with four direct flights operating between the two countries. Belgium is also among the countries that see the fastest rise in the number of Chinese tourists.
It can be said that China-Belgium relationship is at its best in history. Last month Premier LI Keqiang paid a working visit to Belgium. The two sides reached important consensus over deepening friendship and cooperation under new circumstances and signed seven MOUs. I am ready to work together with the Belgian side in implementing the outcome of the visit so that China-Belgium relations will move further ahead.
Let us work together to promote high-level visits, as well as mutual exchanges between central governments, legislative bodies, parties and local governments to enhance political trust. China welcomes and places great importance on the visit by a delegation led by Princesss Astrid next year and will work closely with the Belgian side in careful preparation for the visit.
Let us work together to enhance pragmatic cooperation for mutual benefits. China is ready to take the Belt and Road Initiative as an opportunity to further take forward our cooperation with Belgium in such areas as infrastructure, digital economy, energy, and third party market cooperation. China stands ready to import more high-quality agricultural produce from Belgium and will continue to build better business environment. We welcome more Belgian companies in setting up presence in China. In the meantime we look to Belgium for providing more support and facilitation to Chinese companies investing in Belgium. We also hope to see the Belgian side taking greater strides in innovation and high-tech cooperation with China, and winning a larger share of the Chinese market.
Let us step up people-to-people exchanges as popular support is the very foundation on which national relations are built. China is ready to expand exchanges and cooperation with Belgium in education, science and technology, culture, tourism, youth, think tanks, media, and many others. The Chinese Embassy will continue to facilitate the visa application and traveling of Belgian friends going to China for tourism, business or studies. I am also planning to visit different parts of Belgium myself, so that I can get to know Belgian people from all walks of life and spot opportunities for further advancing China-Belgium cultural and sub-national ties.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year marks the 15th anniversary of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. The 20th China-EU Summit and the 12th ASEM Summit were successfully held. The two sides reached important consensus over the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative and the EU strategy on connecting Europe and Asia. Stronger cooperation between China and Europe has taken on even greater significance under the current international circumstances. China will continue to work with Belgium and the EU to inject positive energy into world peace, stability and development.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up. Over the past four decades, China has embraced the world, achieved remarkable economic progress, and in the meantime made great contribution to world development. As President XI stated at the opening ceremony of the China International Import Expo three days ago, China will continue its effort to pursue higher-quality opening-up and an open world economy. Since the beginning of this year, a number of new policies have been introduced in China aimed at strengthening IPR protection, expanding market access, and improving business environment. In the coming 15 years, China's import of goods and services are expected to exceed US$30 trillion and US$10 trillion respectively. All of these present enormous opportunities for countries around the world.
Belgium has always been an important partner in China's reform and opening up endeavor. It is hoped that Belgium will continue its active participation in China's reform and opening up, so that the country will further benefit from China's development and progress. Suppose 1% of China's annual import comes from Belgium, then the total export value of Belgium to China will grow to US$20 billion (Belgium export to China in 2017 is US$7.5 billion). Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Employment, Economy and Consumer Affairs Kris Peeters has just been back from a trip to Shanghai, where he led a delegation from Belgium to attend the ongoing first China International Import Expo. Media report that in the first two days of the Expo, the delegation has clinched deals worth over 2 billion euros. I hope they will make even bigger gains in the upcoming days.
China is striving towards the two centenary goals, namely to complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and to develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The Chinese dream is one to build a prosperous country, a fair and just society, and create better lives for our people. It has nothing to do with competing against or trying to get ahead of other countries. China will stay committed to the path of peaceful development, and will always work to contribute to world peace and development, and to safeguard international order.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please bear with me as I speak a few words in Chinese to the overseas Chinese who are he