|Remarks by Ambassador Qu Xing at BCECC Chinese New Year Reception|
Dear Chairman Dewit,
Dear Deputy Prime Minister Reynders,
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
I feel deeply flattered to be invited to give a speech to you, as you are the social elites here, at this magnificent palace. I am very touched and grateful towards the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) for holding such a big event to celebrate the Chinese New Year. I also want to thank everyone for taking the time to celebrate the Chinese New Year with us. Thank you for your confidence for the future of China-Belgium cooperation, for your respect for the Chinese culture, for your friendliness towards the Chinese people, and for your faith in China's development.
The Spring Festival is the most important traditional festival in China. It is a season for family reunion. It is also a season for travel. In the 40 days around the Spring Festival, known as Spring Festival travel season, or Chunyun, 2.8 billion passengers travel across different cities in China for family reunion. It has become one of the most important human migration activities on the planet. Nowadays, not only the Chinese people, but people around the world are celebrating the Chinese New Year in different ways. The big screen at New York's Times Square repeatedly plays Spring Festival Gala, or Chunwan. The Nasdaq rings its opening bell in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Sydney displays fireworks and holds lantern festival, and Sydney Opera House glows red to celebrate the Chinese New Year. St. Petersburg in Russia adorns its Winter Palace Bridge with red lanterns. Prince Charles and his wife visit Chinatown in London to send New Year congratulations. Dignitaries from many countries send New Year messages to the Chinese people. Tonight, we celebrate the Chinese New Year with our Belgian friends at Egmont Palace which embodies Belgian history and culture. Together, we will review the past achievements and make plan for future development.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971, cooperation between China and Belgium has made remarkable progress. In particular, cooperation in economy and trade are spectacular. In 2014, bilateral trade amounted to 27.3 billion US dollars, which is the second best in history. Every seven hours of trade today is equivalent to that of the whole year in 1971. And BCECC plays an important role in this important achievement. In January of this year, China Shipping Globe, the largest cargo ship in the world, with carrying capacity of 19,000 TEUs, arrived in Zeebrugge on its maiden voyage, which is living exhibition of enormous trade volume between China and Belgium. Our trade relationship is mutually beneficial. For Belgium, imports from China provide Belgian households with sufficient supply of daily necessities, and save production cost for Belgian manufacturers, which is conducive to stabilizing prices and consolidating Belgium’s role as an important gateway to west Europe. While for China, imports from Belgium are beneficial for upgrading China’s industry and consumption structure. Every year, Belgium exports to China diamonds worth of more than 5 billion US dollars. A diamond wedding ring has become the perfect combination of Chinese tradition and Western fashion. As Neuhaus and other Belgian chocolate brands enter the Chinese market, young people in China find it hard to resist the temptation to have a bite of European flavor. AB InBev owns 40 breweries in China and many well-known brands such as stella artois, leff, and hoegaarden. Chinese people are never afraid of strong liquor, and certainly will not miss the opportunity to have a hearty drink of Belgian beer.
Two-way investment is equally exciting. As forerunner of cooperation with China, Belgian enterprises bring to China advanced concepts, technologies and equipments, and are well rewarded from China's vast market. Solvay Chemical has 17 production and R & D centers in China, and is working with China to develop high-performance formula, advanced new materials, performance chemicals, and functional polymers. Umicore Group has almost 20 factories in China which produce automotive catalysts, and recycle non-ferrous metals, taking concrete actions to support the China’s pursuit of green development, environmental protection, new materials and recycling economy. Picanol has been cooperating with China for half a century, exporting to China large quantities of advanced textile machinery, training a number of Chinese professionals, and promoting the upgrading of China's textile industry. China’s investment to Belgium, on the other hand, has become a new impetus to the two countries’ cooperation. The Volve Ghent plant owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group of China enjoys continuous growth. Its production reached 264,000 in 2014, accounting for 50% of total automotive production in Belgium. As production expands, Volvo Ghent factory employs more people. Up until now, the factory has 5,300 people who work "three shifts" every day in order to meet with fast growing market demand. Huawei and ZTE have gained rapid development in Belgium’s communications equipment market. While providing quality services to local companies and consumers, they also invest more in R & D, and innovation. The League Group acquired the famous Belgian luggage brand Hedgren, intending to combine Belgium’s advantage in design and brand with China's advantage in manufacturing and market, in an effort to make Hedgren an international brand.
The prospect for future cooperation is promising. Currently, China's economic development has entered a stage of new normal, and will maintain moderate-to-rapid growth in a period from now on. China pursues a balanced growth of domestic and external demand, import and export, foreign investment and overseas investment. In the next five years, China’s accumulated import will exceed 10 trillion US dollars. In the next 10 years, China's overseas investment will reach 1.25 trillion US dollars. This will provide countries in the world including Belgium with more opportunities in terms of market, growth, investment and cooperation. In 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a historic state visit to Belgium, and the two countries issued Joint Declaration on deepening the all-round friendly and cooperative partnership. China highly values Belgium’s advantage as the "heart" of European economy, and is ready to work with Belgian side to foster new growth point in the field of new economy, green economy and circular economy. Joint efforts will be made to explore means and resources to bind the Chinese-European cooperation to the construction of the Silk Road economic belt, and develop the great Eurasian market.
Ladies and gentlemen, today is China’s Lantern Festival, the last day of Spring Festival. After this day, the Chinese people will start another busy and fulfilling year of hard work. The coming new year will witness further progress in China-Belgium relations. His Majesty the King Philippe will pay a state visit to China, and Chinese premier will come to Belgium for an official visit. Our mutually beneficial and pragmatic cooperation is full of new opportunities.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Dewit and our dear friends from the Belgian business community have made extraordinary contributions to Belgium’s cooperation with China. Hereby, allow me to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the Chinese Embassy. Let us build on past achievements to make new progress, and create a better future of mutually beneficial and practical cooperation.
Last but not least, I wish everyone good luck in the Year of Goat!