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Remarks by Ambassador Qu Xing at the Reception on the Occasion of His Assumption of Office
2015-01-16 02:13


Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Good evening!

First of all, please allow me, on behalf of Chinese Embassy in Belgium, and in my own name, to extend warmest welcome to you all. I believe many of you know about this place and this building better than I do, for I’ve been here for only one month, while you, as friends of China, may probably have come many years ago, and more than quite a few times.

I am posted in the Kingdom of Belgium as the 14th Chinses Ambassador in the period of the People's Republic. We Chinese people believe in "doing right things at the right time, in the right place, and with the right people".

As Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, I am lucky to have all these advantages, namely, the right things, the right time, the right place and the right people.

I am here to do right things. President Xi Jinping sent me here with a view to promoting even better understanding and exchanges between the two peoples, and enhancing economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries, so as to bring benefit to the two peoples, and contribute to the development of China-EU relations and world peace and stability.

It is “the right time” to promote China-Belgium cooperation. Since the reform and opening up, China has made remarkable achievements, and is experiencing a period of rapid development. Recently, China has begun a new round of reform and opening up, which will release enormous potential for cooperation with other countries. According to China's development plan, in the next five years, China’s import will reach $ 10 trillion. In the next 10 years, China's overseas investment will reach $ 1.3 trillion. Countries in the world are keen to strengthen cooperation with China. In respect of China-Belgium relations, last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a successful historic state visit to Belgium, the first of its kind in 27 years. President Xi Jinping came to Belgium within one year since taking office, which fully reflects the great importance he attaches to China's relationship with Belgium. During President Xi Jinping’s visit, leaders of the two countries jointly decided to enhance bilateral relations to a new level of "all-round, friendly and cooperative partnership", presenting a historical opportunity for bilateral relations. For that reason, I feel that I have come to Belgium “at the right time”.

I also enjoy the advantage of "right place". Belgium, located in the center of Europe, is a transportation hub in the air, on the sea, and on the land. It is also home to the headquarters of the European Union and some other internatinal organizations. Therefore, Belgium is not only the geographical center of Europe, but also the political center of Europe. To certain extend, the city of Bruxels is the capital of Europe. Belgium has well-developed industry, cutting-edge technology, full-fledged infrastructure, sound social order, which makes it an ideal place to carry out diplomatic activities. President Xi Jinping's initiative of "Silk road economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road of 21st century" stresses the importance to strengthen the connectivity between Asia and Europe. The Joint Declaration, issued by Chinese and Belgian governments during President Xi Jinping’s visit, specifies that the two sides will jointly promote the railway connection between Antwerp and western China in order to facilitate the movement of goods between Europe and China. This further highlights Belgium as the "right place" to develop China-EU relations.

Besides “the right time” and “the right place”, I am also lucky enough to be working with "the right people". Due to its twisted and complicated history, Belgium is a peace-loving country. The Belgians are a kind people who know how to get along with others, and are especially good at finding the win-win solutions in a complex environment. President Xi Jinping and King Philippe have established a good working relationship and a deep personal friendship. My colleagues from the embassy have built good working relationship with Belgian federal government, regional governments and governments of communities. We also have a lot of cooperation with Belgian governments at provincial and city levels. In recent years, China’s investment to Belgium has been growing at fast pace, creating many employment opportunities. Chinese companies desire to invest in Belgium and combine the technological advantages on the Belgian side with manufacturing advantages and market potential on the Chinese side. Last year, 40,000 Belgian citizens went to China for tourism and business activities. On the other hand, Belgium has a growing appeal to Chinese tourists and students because of its superior university education and rich tourist resources. As you see, we have "the right people" from both sides to promote China-Belgium cooperation.

Again, I feel truly lucky to come to Belgium, the right place, at the right time and with the right people to undertake right things.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The People's Republic of China and Belgium established diplomatic ties on October 25, 1971. On that day, the world witnessed two major events in international relations. The first one is that the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 to restore the People's Republic of China in its lawful seat in the United Nations. The second event is that Belgium and China established diplomatic ties on the very same day. Ever since then, bilateral relations have enjoyed rapid development. Bilateral trade, to take but one instance, rises from $ 20 million in 1971 to $ 27 billion in 2014, an increase of 1350 times, which means that the average one-day bilateral trade volume today equals to the sum of three years in 1970s.

Belgium may not have the world’s largest population, nor does it have vast territory. Belgium’s history as an independent country is not as long as China either. One might think that Belgium can’t have long history of exchanges with China. The facts are quite the opposite. As early as the 17th century, the Belgian missionary Ferdinand Verbiest came to China to share with Chinese Emperor Kangxi, the most accomplished emperor in Chinese history, his knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. During that time, Ferdinand Verbiest also contributed to improvement of the Beijing Observatory. Until today, the Observatory is still standing by the main street in Beijing as a astronomic museum. A hundred years ago, Belgian entrepreneur Édouard Empain carried out the construction of China's first mainline railway, namely, the Beijing-Hankou Railway. The railway of 1200 kms came into operation in 1906, promoting China's economic development and social changes. During World War I, the Chinese government sent 140,000 laborers to Europe, to help the Entente Countries, i.e. the United Kingdom, France and Belgium. These Chinese laborers were engaged in the most difficult and dangerous work including digging trenches, repairing fortifications, delivering field supplies, building roads and bridges, taking care of the wounded, burying the dead, cleaning up the battlefield, and even sweeping mines. A large number of the Chinese laborers arrived and worked in Belgium, and gave their lives in defending the country. During the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, the Belgian government offered to give Chinese people as a present, a large-scale sculpture masterpiece “The Athletes’ Alley”, which was the result of 15 years’ hard work by Belgian contemporary artist Olivier Strebelle, and has become the sole foreign sculpture in Beijing Olympic Forest Park.

As the new year begins, China-Belgium relations will harvest more fruits. The Chinese Cultural Center in Brussels will be unveiled this spring. The China-Belgium Technology Center (CBTC) will begin its construction. In any case, China-Belgium relations are thriving with sufficient stamina.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, there are tens of thousands of Chinese nationals living and working in Belgium. I would like to thank the Belgian people for providing my Chinese fellows with the necessary conditions of work and life, and I am glad to see that my Chinese fellows have made due contributions to the development of Belgium. Now, please allow me to say a few words to them in Chinese.

Dear Chinese compatriots, making a living outside one’s motherland is not easy. To quote a popular saying in China, "our compatriots are pretty strenuous." In the future, the Chinese Embassy will continue to help you integrate into the local society and protect your legitimate rights and interests. Meanwhile, I hope you will conduct business activities in an industrious and lawful manner, in respecting local laws and regulations. Our ambassy will always be your reliable backing.

"Putting people’s interests first and conducting diplomacy for the people" is an important concept of China’s diplomacy. Last year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry launched the Global Emergency Call Center for Consular Protection and Services. The “12308” hotline provides 24-hour service to overseas Chinese citizens in need. My Chinese fellows, your hard work has played indispensible role in enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between the two peoples. Thank you!

Now, let me conclude my speech and wish you a most pleasant evening. Please enjoy conversations over authentic Chinese cuisine.

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