|Remarks by Ambassador Qu Xing at the Welcome Dinner Reception|
Dear Heads of different Chinese Associations,
Dear Chinese fellows,
First of all, I would like to thank you for hosting a most considerate and warm welcome reception for me and my colleagues. I understand you must be very busy with business as the Chinese New Year is approaching. Thank you for making the time to host this reception! My thanks also go to the majority of Chinese fellows in Belgium for their hospitality and great support to my Embassy.
China and Belgium established diplomatic relations in October 1971. By this October, we will be celebrating the 44th anniversary. I am already the 14th Chinese Ambassador to Belgium. Over the past four decades, thanks to joint efforts from both sides, the friendly cooperation between the two countries keeps forging ahead, and has won support of the two peoples. 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 His Excellency attaches to China's relationship with Belgium. In particular, leaders of the two countries decided to enhance bilateral relations to a new level of "all-round, friendly and cooperative partnership", presenting a historical opportunity for bilateral relations. I feel that I have come to Belgium with great responsibility, and at a great time.
As the new Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, my most important mission is to promote even better understanding and exchanges between the two peoples, and enhance 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.
I arrived in Belgium last December. I’ve spent almost two months in this country already. During this short period of time, I feel deeply touched by the friendship of the Belgian Government and people towards China. As it happens, my arrival coincides with Christmas and New Year holiday, so it was not possible to arrange the presentation of credentials. In order to facilitate my work in the capacity of Chinese Ambassador, King Philippe kindly made a special arrangement, and received me in private before he met with other foreign envoys at a royal reception. So I had a long conversation with His Majesty. And that meeting enables me to exercise my duties as Ambassador before the official presentation of credentials. This special arrangement is made as a token of friendship from the Belgian royal family and government towards the Chinese people. On February 3 last week, I officially presented my credentials to King Philippe. We had a friendly and good humored conversation. King Philippe and the royal family are very friendly towards China. In fact, King Philippe will pay an official visit to China this year at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. This will be the first state visit by the King of Belgium to China in tens years. It will also be the first state visit of King Philippe to a foreign country. This year will also witness high-level visits from Chinese side. You see, the political relations between the two countries are in a good shape.
On the economic front, I understand that you follow closely the economic situation in China, no matter how far away you are from the motherland. In spite of the international economic downturn, the overall economic situation in China is quite good. Last year, China’s economy grew by 7.4 percent, somewhat lower than the growth rate in the past 30 years, but with higher quality. Given the fact that China is already the second largest economy in the world, its GDP reaching $ 10 trillion last year, only after the US, and twice as large as Japan which is the third largest economy, the 7.4 percent increase actually equals to 10 percent growth from the past. Moreover, in today's world, the growth rate of 7.4% is still a high speed. This is also a result of Chinese government’s intention to re-adjust the economic structure, and transform the mode of development. As China's economy continues to expand, and due to changes in the mode of economic development, China will no longer rely its economic development on large-scale expansion of investment or consumption of resources. Rather, China will switch into the quality-benefit mode through industrial upgrading, reform and innovation, and exploring new driving forces for development. Therefore, it will be a more sustainable and healthy development. This means that, China's economic development has entered a stage of new normal, and will maintain moderate-to-rapid growth at about 7.5 percent in the few years to come.
In recent years, as China's economy continues to grow, bilateral trade has been rising steadily. In 2014, bilateral trade reached $27.2 billion, an increase of 1350 times from 1971. In recent years, there has been a rapid growth in China’s investment to Belgium, creating a lot of job opportunities. At present, many Chinese enterprises are interested in investing in Belgium, in the hope of combining the scientific and technological advantages of Belgium with China's manufacturing advantages and market potential. Meanwhile, many Belgian people and entrepreneurs wish to visit China. Last year alone witnessed 40,000 Belgian citizens visiting or doing business in China.
These fruitful results in bilateral relations should be attributed to the long-term commitment of people from both sides, including our dear Chinese fellows in Belgium. While making efforts to integrate into the local society and achieve personal development, our Chinese fellows in Belgium are also committed to economic and social development in their motherland, and increasing the accessibility of Chinese culture in Belgium. Here, I would like to express my most sincere thanks.
Chinese civilization enjoys a long history. Every Chinese fellow has a distinctive Chinese cultural imprint, and is an important carrier of Chinese culture, and a bridge between China and the world. I hope you will continue to be committed to promoting exchanges between Chinese and foreign civilization, tell well China’s stories, and spread well China’s voice, and build a more amiable and admirable image of China and the Chinese people in the international community .
"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. The Embassy will continue to help you integrate into local society and protect your legitimate rights and interests. Meanwhile, I hope you will conduct business activities in an industrious manner in accordance with local laws and regulations. Your motherland will always be your reliable backing.
Finally, on behalf of all my staff from the Chinese Embassy in Belgium, I wish you all a Happy New Year, and great family reunion. May the Year of the Goat bring you good luck and happiness!