|Ambassador Liao Liqiang's Remarks at China-Belgium Friendship Reception|
(September 3, 2014 Brussels)
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to meet so many old friends. I also see some new friends. A Belgian friend asked me, why do you call this reception a "friendship" reception? I said it’s very simple, because I cannot find a more appropriate word to characterize the theme and atmosphere today. And I cannot put you in a better category other than my “friends”, every and each one of you.
As we see it, you all are friends of our Embassy. And you all are friends of China. Over the past years, you have always been dedicated to friendship between two peoples and cooperation between two countries. Relations between countries depend on the ties of the people. People-to-people friendship is the foundation of cooperation, and cooperation will enhance mutual understanding and friendship. China-Belgium friendly cooperation has come a long way, thanks to your commitment and contributions. Hereby, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, I just want to say, thank you!
This year is a “major year” in China-Belgium relations, because we have experienced a "major event" together. That is, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Belgium this March and April. The success of this historic visit renews the bilateral relations as all-round friendly and cooperative partnership. As China-Belgium relations enter the second forty years, we are standing at a higher starting point. Take economic and trade cooperation as example, in the first seven months of this year, bilateral trade volume reached $ 16.4 billion, a year-on-year increase of 14%. China has become Belgium's second largest trading partner outside the EU, and the largest investor in Asia.
Of course, we should be aware that there is still a long way to go. In particular, how do we bring two peoples closer in spite of geographical barriers and cultural differences? This is something we need to work on together. It is my belief that the future of bilateral relations will have to be created by the two peoples.
During my three odd years’ envoyship in Belgium, I have travelled across your country, visiting all the ten provinces and a number of cities and communes. A friend of the press calls me "ambassador on wheels", because I am always on the way. I never feel tired but quite enjoy these trips, because I always make friends on the way, and participate in and witness the friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two peoples.
The Chinese Cultural Center to be built in Brussels, the two Chinese giant pandas “Xinghui” and “Haohao” settling at Pairi Daiza, the "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students, the First European Health Qigong Games, the Wuhan-new-Leuven incubator, the cooperation on potato late blight disease, these exciting achievements are my biggest motivation, and will be a most beautiful memories in my diplomatic career.
When I see Chinese musician conducting at Belgian National Day Concert, when I see Belgian side building monuments and museums for Chinese labor corps of WWI, especially when I see young Belgian athletes taking part in Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, winning two silver medals and four bronze medals, and making friends with their Chinese counterparts, I can only describe my feeling by the name of the most popular song in Belgium: c’est formidable!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today marks the 69th anniversary of China's victory in the anti-Japanese war. While Belgian people are holding commemoration for the 100th anniversary of WWI, the Chinese people are also paying respect to their fellow martyrs who sacrificed themselves for national independence and freedom. This is not a coincidence, because we share the same belief: only by keeping history in mind can we cherish peace today and build a better future.
China, as a responsible country undertaking fast development, will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development and is committed to friendly cooperation with other countries to make due contributions to world peace, security and development. At this very moment, the Chinese medical experts are working in the Ebola-virus-affected areas in Africa to bring the epidemic under control.
Now I would like to give floor to some Belgian friends, Ms. Lin Tengrootenhuysen, Mr. Eric Lederhandler, Mr. Francois Serneels and Mr. Olaf Martens. Like everyone here, they have a lot of stories, and have been exerting efforts to renew Belgium-China friendship. As late chairman Mr. Henry Lederhandler wrote in his autobiography, "my personal involvement in the process of great changes in China gives my life a new meaning."
So, without further ado, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the "ambassadors" from the people, to share with us their wonderful stories.